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GLENN FREY R I P.

| PAUL KANTNER R I P 40
A salesman turned around said, Boy, you break that thing you bought it

EX CL US IV E!
Passions never
been fashionable...

BRUCE
SPRINGSTEEN
...and the
ESTREETBAND
take it back to

THE RIVER

PAGES OF
REVIEWS
MARGO
PRICE
IGGY POP
ALEX HARVEY
DAVID BOWIE
VIOLENT FEMMES
AND MORE...

JEFF
BUCKLEY
Thesecrets
ofhislost
sessions
An audience
with

JEFF
LYNNE
TheFree-style
geniusof

EDDIE
KRAMER
CHRIS
ISAAK
KIRAN
LEONARD
DAVID
LITVINOFF
AND DON CHEADLE
IS MILES DAVIS!

PAUL
KOSSOFF
TAME
IMPALA
Let it happen!
PLUS!

UNDERWORLD
WHITE DENIM
PRIMAL SCREAM
CHARLES BRADLEY
SCRITTI POLITTI

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT.CO.UK

       


            
    
      
      

 
     


   

14 Jeff Lynne
AnaudiencewiththeELOfrontman

18 Jeff Buckley
Howageniussinger-songwriterlearned
hiscratviaaneclecticsongbook

24 Underworld
Anepicjourneyover36years:KarlHyde
andRickSmithtellushowtheyrstmet

30 Bruce Springsteen
Exclusive:theEStreetBandarebackin
NJ growingupandstayingtogether

42 Chris Isaak
ThemakingofWickedGame

46 White Denim
WereconnectwithJamesPetralliand
hisreconguredbandtodiscussjams,
splits,LeonBridgesandmore

52 Eddie Kramer
Albumbyalbumwiththeprolic
Hendrix,LedZepandBowieengineer

56 Paul Kossoff
Friends,familyandcollaborators
on theriseandfallofthemercurial
Free guitarist
40 PAGES OF REVIEWS!

63 New Albums
Including:Margo Price, Iggy Pop
ViolentFemmes,The Coral

85 The Archive
Including: AlexHarvey,Wayfaring
Strangers,DavidBowie

Are we rolling?

IVEN THE CONTROVERSY that our recent Top 200 Albums Of All Time
list seems to have caused, I guess I should be wary of using the words
Greatest and Ever in too close proximity to one another. Still,
working on this issue of Uncut, Ive been reminded that whenever
Im asked about the greatest gigs Ive ever seen, I always mention a night spent
with Jeff Buckley in 1994.
In the 1960s, Bunjies coffee bar, just off Londons Charing Cross
Road, was a hang-out for Dylan and Paul Simon. By the mid 90s,
the subterranean nook was an anachronism, but on March 18,
1994, it hosted one last legendary show. Enthralled by an advance
copy of Jeff Buckleys debut EP, Live At Sin-, Id travelled to New
York the previous month to catch one of his solo shows, and been
stunned by what I saw. When he fetched up on this side of the
Atlantic in mid-March, I suppose I stalked the poor guy.
On March 15, Buckley played a short support set to a few amazed
insiders at the Borderline. Two days later, aesthetes were virtually
scrapping to get into a claustrophobic show Upstairs At The Garage
where, legend has it, John McEnroe carried Buckleys amp. The next night found
Buckley in Bunjies cellar, distributing white roses to the lucky few of us whod
managed to scam our way in. Bunjies was too hardcore to bother with mics, and the
somersaulting range of Buckleys voice was more apparent than ever.
He played for an hour or so, and wanted to play longer, but the venue was closing.
Then someone came in and said he could carry on at the 12-Bar, another muso club
just down the road. Buckley marched out of the club carrying his guitar, and we all
followed him with our roses. Even at the time, it felt like we were living out a romantic
fantasy. At the 12-Bar, Buckley tried to play every song hed ever heard: The Smiths,
Led Zeppelin, some heartfelt Liz Frazer and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan impressions, until
he pretty much had to be carried off the stage.
There have been times when Ive questioned my memories of the whole evening,
which is one of the reasons Im thankful for the arrival of a new Buckley collection,
You And I, and Graeme Thomsons feature about it. Many of the songs that Buckley
played at the 12-Bar turn up on You And I, dating from a February 1993 recording
session in New York.
I was sucked in by his voice and guitar playing, his A&R man, Steve Berkowitz,
tells Graeme. The way he was singing and playing these songs, which were mostly
covers, seemed fully orchestrated. Yet it was casually done, it seemed spontaneous
and unrehearsed.
He believed, I suppose, his time had come

98 DVD & Film


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102 Live

John Mulvey, Editor. Follow me on Twitter @JohnRMulvey

TameImpala,ScrittiPolitti

114 Books
The Replacements, Phil Lynott

117 Not Fade Away


This months obituaries

120 Letters
Plus the Uncut crossword

122 My Life In Music


Bobby Gillespie

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COVER: LYNN GOLDSMITH/CORBIS

4 Instant Karma!
Glenn Frey RIP; Charles Bradley,
David Litvino, Kiran Leonard

I N STA N T K A R M A !
THIS MONTHS REVELATIONS FROM THE WORLD OF UNCUT
RD
Featuring CHARLES BR ADLEY

4 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

LAST FLIGHT

TAKE IT TO
THE LIMIT
GLENN FREY (1948-2016)
The indefatigable Eagle remembered by JD Souther,
Don Felder and more: We all looked to him for direction.

LENN FREY WASNT the first


aspiring songwriter to be drawn to
California in the 1960s, but he made
his mark more emphatically than
most. Arriving in LA from Michigan
in 1969, aged 20, Frey met fellow Detroit native
JD Souther and began gigging at the Troubadour
as country-folk duo Longbranch Pennywhistle.
The downstairs neighbour in their Echo Park
apartment, meanwhile, was another young
hopeful, Jackson Browne.
Longbranch Pennywhistles debut LP tanked,
yet it was the start of a songwriting coalition that
fed directly into Freys next project. In 1971,
Souther recommended Frey to his girlfriend,
Linda Ronstadt, then on the lookout for a backing
band. Frey hit it off immediately with her
drummer, Don Henley, whom hed first bumped
into at the Troubadour. The
pair swiftly set about
forming what became The
Eagles, with the addition of
Bernie Leadon and Randy
Meisner, and began
rehearsing at Ronstadts
place. Glenn and I had
broken up as a duo only
months before, recalls
Souther now, who
continued to collaborate
with The Eagles, but they
already sounded like a
fantastic four-piece band.
Don and Glenn really
planned and executed that thing perfectly.
I viewed The Eagles as a fait accompli they were
always going to tour their butts off and make the
right records. These seamless, beautiful records.
And we all made each other better musicians
and songwriters.
One of the first acts signed to David Geffens
Asylum label, The Eagles scored an instant
hit with 1972s debut single Take It Easy,
co-written by Frey and Browne. It was the
beginning of an intense, often combustible,
career that saw the band define the soft-rock
epoch of 70s California in much the same
way as The Beach Boys had embodied the
previous decade. Glenn was the one who
started it all, said Henley in a statement,

released after Frey died in January of


complications from rheumatoid arthritis,
ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. He was the
spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an
encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and
a work ethic that wouldnt quit. He was funny,
bull-headed, mercurial, generous, deeply
talented and driven.
The bedrock of The Eagles commercial success
was their ability to absorb the smooth harmonies
of country music and roll them out for a rock
audience, sweetened by deft melodies and glassy
guitar hooks. Under Freys stewardship, the
band diligently scaled up the SoCal sound for
a global audience, peaking with 1976s Hotel
California. At the last count, the album has sold
in excess of 32 million copies. Glenn was by
far the leader of the band, recalls guitarist
Don Felder, who joined
The Eagles in 1974.
We all looked to him
for direction. He was a
great organiser and just
kind of ran the show.
He also had a great sense
of humour and was really
fun to write with, as far as
song conceptualisation.
Glenn had a brilliant gift
for being able to see the
picture of what the song
should be and then break
it down scene by scene,
verse by verse. The
combination of his perspective and Henleys
literary skills, and different peoples musical
beds underneath, was a magical one.
Freys gift for shaping The Eagles songs led
his bandmates to dub him The Lone Arranger.
This brought with it a wider vision. All those
images synonymous with California palm
trees, sandy beaches, bikinis, movie stars,
Hollywood Boulevard had run through our
minds when each of us had first made our way
to the West Coast, adds Felder, who co-wrote
Hotel Californias title track with Frey and
Henley. So Glenn started talking about how we
could use that concept as a framework for the
album. The foundation for a lot of the songs on
Hotel California developed from Glenns initial

Glenn just kind


of ran the show.
He was stacked
with aces from
every suit that you
could name
DON FELDER

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

RICHARD MCCAFFREY/ MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVE/ GETTY IMAGES

Glenn Frey at an
Eagles show at the
Oakland Coliseum,
Califorinia, 1977

I N STA N T KA R M A !
idea, whether it was New Kid In Town
or Life In The Fast Lane.
After The Eagles split in July 1980,
undermined by in-fighting, drugs and warring
egos, Frey went solo. The One You Love gave
him a Billboard Top 20 hit two years later,
though it wasnt until 1984s kinetic The Heat
Is On that he achieved major international
success. The song, written by Keith Forsey and
Harold Faltermeyer, was a populist highlight
of the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop. The
Eagles were saying that they wouldnt get
back together until hell freezes over, so Glenn
needed success as a solo artist, remembers
Faltermeyer. He was really into the song and
actually ended up playing the guitar solo. He
was rocknroll, the easiest guy on earth. One
of his favourite hangouts was across the street
from the Paramount lot, at the Formosa Caf, so
wed go over there for a pitcher of margaritas
and then get back to work. The Heat Is On
helped him a lot. He was on a flight to a
different world.
Other hits soon followed. Chief among them
were Smugglers Blues and You Belong To

BEYOND COOL

Blowingminds:
DonCheadle
asMilesDavis

IN A SILENT (MOVIE) WAY


UpfrontofhisMilesDavis
biopic,DONCHEADLEgets
up withUncut and Kenny G!

GEORGE PIMENTEL/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE EAGLES

TimothyBSchmit,DonHenley,GlennFrey
andJoeWalshattheHistoryOfTheEagles
Part1documentaryannouncementduring
the2013Sundance FilmFestival, Park
City, Utah, January 19, 2013

The City, both of which were recorded for


Miami Vice, the TV series that saw Frey branch
out into acting with the part of recurring
character Jimmy Cole. By the time The Eagles
did indeed reunite for 1994s drolly titled live
effort Hell Freezes Over, Frey had issued four
solo LPs and a clutch of successful 45s. He
toasted the bands reunion on stage by telling
the audience: For the record, we never broke up.
We just took a 14-year vacation.
It was the signal for a fresh round of sporadic
jaunts that culminated in the History Of The
Eagles tour, a companion piece to the titular
Showtime documentary that aired in 2013. The
bands two-year global trek, which came to a
close last summer, netted them a tidy $86 million
in 2014 alone. The Eagles were due to pick up an
award at the annual Kennedy Center Honors in
December, but asked for it to be postponed until
Frey was fit to attend. Alas, it wasnt to be.
For the most part, Glenn was a delightful guy
to have spent 27 years in a band with, concludes
Felder, who had hoped for a reconciliation
with Frey after the pair were involved in legal
wrangles during the Noughties. He was a
multi-talented writer, arranger, performer and
a great guitar player. He was just stacked with
aces from every suit that you could name. Glenn
was everything that youd want in a band.
ROB HUGHES

6 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

ON CHEADLE WAS 10 when he was


first introduced to Miles Davis music.
My parents had copies of Kind Of
Blue and Porgy And Bess, he tells
Uncut. I used to listen to those LPs all the time;
especially Porgy And Bess. Because its based on
Gershwin, its very theatrical and expressive. It
felt like it was telling a story. Starting out as an
actor at that age, those two things dovetailed
together. It was going somewhere.
It took 40 years for Cheadle to catch up again
to Davis. The result is Miles Ahead a film in
which Cheadle not only stars as Davis but also
directs. As with its subject, Miles Ahead has its
own mercurial style. Set largely in the late 70s,
when Davis withdrew both from the concert
stage and from the recording studio, it cuts away
to show Davis earlier career in the late 1950s
and his courtship of dancer Frances Taylor
(Emayatzy Corinealdi), his first wife. There is
also a fabricated subplot involving the hunt for
stolen studio tapes that is closer to caper movie
than conventional biopic.
We didnt want it to be a stuffy, cradle-to-thegrave film; the Greatest Hits of
Miles Davis life, explains
Cheadle. The 70s became
the departure point for us.
How did this incredibly prolific
artist, who had changed
music three or four times, go
silent for five years? Whats
happening? How do you get out
of that? You start the movie
when hes not playing and it
makes you lean in and say,

What? Were going to listen to you not play?


The period between when he met Frances
and when she was running out of the door for
her life was the period when he took Kind Of
Blue and went from that first supergroup with
Coltrane, Cannonball and Wynton Kelly to the
second supergroup. He went everywhere those
songs could possible take him, then never
playing any of them again.
One useful comparison to Miles Ahead
may well be Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson
drama that similarly focused on two specific
periods in its subjects life. Both films depicted
the hard construction work that goes into
creating art: in Miles Ahead, Cheadle takes us
inside the Porgy And Bess sessions. One of the
questions we had as we were putting the film
together was, How do you show genius, quote
unquote? admits Cheadle, who learned to play
trumpet for the film. We went in there and
acted like musicians, played it, figured it out
and just recorded the session.
How would Cheadle describe the films two
Davises the 1950s and 1970s versions? Its not
just binary, he counters. It was modal. It was
like, this is now and that was then. You see
similar things in both times. The fragile nature
of what hes dealing with: his jealousy, his fear
of losing, the rage that inspires.
Did you ever meet Davis?
No, I saw him perform at Red
Rocks, in Denver, Colorado,
when I was a senior in high
school, in 1982, reveals
Cheadle. But I met Kenny G
that night. Though thats not
exactly the same thing as
meeting Miles Davis, right?

Wedidnt
wantitto
beastuffy,
cradle-to-thegravefilm

DON CHEADLE

MICHAEL BONNER

Miles Ahead is released in


the UK in April

I N STA N T KA R M A !
IM NEW HERE

OnceIWas
AnEagle

HeturnsBlackSabbathtunesinto
deepsoul!Hemakestofutaste
likechicken!Istherenoendtothe
talents of CHARLES BRADLEY?
conversation. I say
that because it took
so long for the world
to accept me. Ive
been out there singing James
Brown, Otis Redding and making
people happy, but only now is it
about the true voice of Charles
Bradley. I look into peoples faces
and see how their spirit catches my
music. Some people never find that
moment, but I found mine.
This spring sees the release
of his third album, Changes, for

I can even do
Neil Youngs
Heart Of Gold,
but I kinda
make it mine

THE CLASSIFIEDS

CharlesBradley:
Ittooksolong
fortheworldto
accept me

Daptone, and its title track and


inspiration come from a surprising
source. In Bradleys hands, the
Black Sabbath song, Ozzys
signature tune, becomes a deep
soul masterpiece. It reminds me of
the day my mom left me. I listened
to the Black Sabbath album a lot
around that time and when I
listen to that last part, I can still
hear her last goodbye: All my days
have turned to tears/Wish I could go
back and change these years. That
emotion, those words Its the
calling card for a boneshaking soul
album, from the upbeat Aint It A
Sin to the funky melodrama of
God Bless America/Good To Be
Back Home.
After a string of US dates, late
March sees his tour hit Europe,
including the Kentish Town Forum,
Bristols Colston Hall and that
venue of soul legends past,
LOlympia, Paris. I always tell
everybody Europe is truly where
I got my start. Now Im getting
respect in the United States, but
I had to go to Europe and sing my
heart out first!
Onstage, Bradley brings the
intensity, energy and stagecraft
youd expect from someone with
that peerless nickname, coined by

Daptone labelmates The Budos


Band. Im always making my
own stage clothes. I had this heavy
T-shirt with a big eagle on the back
of it, and I cut it out and I sewed
it on the back of my black jumpsuit,
with all these little pizzazz things
on it. When I went onstage and
starting dancing and went crazy,
they said: Man, thats a screaming
eagle of soul!
Like his food, Bradleys shows are
about pleasing the customers. I
want everybody to see me sing. My
musical friends say you gotta get
away from James Brown I say I
cant get away from my roots. Dont
make me be a robot! I wanna be
free to get out there and feed the
audience what they want. If they
wanna hear a little bit of James
Brown, hey, Im gonna give them
James Brown. If they wanna hear a
little hit of Otis Redding, well, hey
I can even do Neil Young.
I actually do Heart Of Gold,
but I kinda make it mine
MARK BENTLEY

Changes is released April 1 on


Daptone/Dunham. Charles
Bradley plays London O2 Forum
(March 30), Bristol Colston Hall
(April 15) and Gateshead Sage (17)

This month: Synth nights with Stevo on the Kings Road, and the Bunnymen
headline a post-punk mega-gig at the Lyceum. From NME, March 8, 1980

MARK SHAW

IXTY-SEVEN YEAR old


soulman Charles Bradley has
offered to cook Uncut lunch.
What do you eat? Ive been a
Chinese cook, an American cook,
Ive done Italian cooking, Ive
cooked Greek food My mom, she
loved me to make a chicken la king
with hot homemade biscuits. Even
if you dont eat no meat, I can still
take me some mushrooms, some
tofu, put my flavours in it, and
you would swear to god youre
eating chicken
Meet the Florida-born singer with
the most righteous voice and
recipe book in soul music. The
Screaming Eagle Of Souls
backstory is literally the stuff of
movies: 2012s Soul Of America
chronicles time served, from
leaving home at 14, training as a
chef in the Job Corps, losing his
bandmates to the Vietnam draft,
via family tragedy, jail time, and
life on the road as a James Brown
impersonator, Black Velvet. It
was there he caught the eye of
Daptone boss Gabriel Roth, and the
fit with the soul-revivalist label is
clear. Bradleys racked roar burns
with authenticity.
Like other musicians who have
found a platform later in life, he
would rather look forward than
back: Honestly, life now is
bittersweet a word he uses
a number of times during our

I N STA N T KA R M A!
A QUICK ONE
Thismonths
offeringsfrom
Uncutspublishing
empireincludethe
latestHistoryOf
Rock,focusingon
1972andfeaturing
ofcourseDavid
Bowieonthecover.
Also,weveadeluxe
upgradedversion
ofUltimateMusic
GuidetoTheWho
backintheshops,
andaBeachBoys
UltimateMusic
Guideontheway.

DavidLitvinoffin
HansCrescent,
Knightsbridge,
in the 1950s

Thelatest90s
indiesweethearts
toreformareTanya
DonellysBelly.
Datesareimpending
intheUSandUK,
andtheirwebsite
promisesahandful
ofbrandnewBelly
songsinvarious
stagesofwriting
andrecording,that
wellbereleasing
onebyoneoverthe
nextfewmonths.

PHILIP LEVY; ANNABELMEHRAN

Ayearon
fromhisdeath,
DaevidAllens
lastrecordingsare
setforrelease.
Elevensesis
creditedtothe
DaevidAllenWeird
Quartet,and
evidenceofthe
mansimperishable
quirkinessshines
throughthe
tracklist:DimSum
InAlphabetical
Order!Banana
Construction!
Imagicknation!
MichaelNesmith
mayhavedropped
outofMonkees
touringduties,but
hedoesfigure
alongsideMichael
Nesmith,andPeter
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Times,thefirst
MonkeesLPin20
years,dueJune10.
Lost60ssongsby
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HarryNilssonhave
beenrevised,along
withnewmaterial
providedbyRivers
CuomoandBen
Gibbard,aNoel
Gallagher/Paul
Wellerco-write
and,intriguingly,
AndyPartridge.
Visitwww.uncut.
co.ukfornews,
reviews,playlists,
and more

8 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

His friends
from Bohemia
didnt know
how dangerous
he could be
Rediscovering DAVID
LITVINOFF: Clapton
and Stones confidant,
Performance muse
and Krays enforcer!

AVID LITVINOFF IS one of


those characters from the
1960s who always crops up
in other peoples stories,
flitting in and out like
a ghost, a fast-talking fixer and minor
criminal whose sharp wit and dangerous
edge saw him associate with Eric Clapton,
Mick Jagger, Donald Cammell, George
Melly, Lucian Freud, Peter Rachman and
the Krays. Having often been depicted as
inexplicable and unknowable, he is now

the subject of a biography by Keiron Pim,


whose Jumpin Jack Flash: David Litvinoff
And The RocknRoll Underground was
five years in the writing.
Everybody talked of him as this
fascinating, funny, clever man whose
story was seemingly so difficult to tell,
says Pim, who relished the challenge of
recovering a seemingly lost life. Litvinoff,
a self-mythologising gay Jewish East
Ender who flirted with art and
aristocracy before meeting the Krays,
is best known for his involvement in
Performance, advising Edward Fox and
Donald Cammell on
the rhythms of the
criminal underworld.
Several scenes from
the film were based on
Litvinoffs ultraviolent
experiences as an
enforcer and hustler
for Rachman and the
Krays. This was a
man with a very dark
side, says Pim, who
sat down with hitmen as well as rock
stars. I had to reconcile these different
aspects of his character. Some of his
friends from gentle Bohemia didnt know
how dangerous he could be.
Pim interviewed more than 100 people
in England, Wales and Australia as he
sought to put flesh on Litvinoffs bones,
sifting truth from myth. It was a
sometimes hair-rising experience.

There were moments when I wondered


what the hell I was doing. This man was
a lot darker than people realised, says
Pim. There were entertaining stories
about what he got up to, but Im not sure
Id like to have known him then.
Pim portrays Litvinoff as Londons
answer to Neal Casady. His energetic
approach to life saw him pose for Lucian
Freud, live with George Melly and turn
Eric Clapton on to Dylans Basement
Tapes, as the pair bonded over a mutual
love of the blues. Clapton gave a very
thoughtful, generous interview, says
Pim. Litvinoff was always listening to
music and would try to turn people on
to new things.
As interviewee Marianne Faithfull
confirms, he was also close to
The Rolling Stones, both before
Performance and after. He was
certainly a strong influence on Jagger
in particular, says Pim. They found
him entertaining and exciting. He was
slightly older so could show them sides of
London they werent familiar with and
even music they hadnt heard. Jagger
later learnt how to adopt different guises,
which is something Litvinoff had done to
survive since the 1950s as a gay Jewish
man. The Stones know how to take what
they want from people and move on.
Litvinoff delighted in his ability to
shock as he lived between the lines,
surviving on his wits and the generosity
of friends who appreciated his wit and
excitement until it became too much.
By the 1970s, having
spent time in Sydney
with Oz artist Martin
Sharp, he was burnt
out. He committed
suicide in 1975,
leaving behind little
physical trace of his
own kaleidoscopic
existence. Clapton
was still upset that
somebody who he and
his friends thought of so fondly had so
much self-loathing that none of their love
or affection could get through to him,
says Pim. But he was clearly set on that
path and had been for some time.

Thiswasaman
withaverydark
side.Imnotsure
Idliketohave
known him then

PETER WATTS

Jumpin Jack Flash: David Litvinoff


And The RocknRoll Underground by
Keiron Pim is published by Jonathan Cape

END OF THE ROAD 2016 IN SIGHT!


This years stars: Joanna Newsom!
Animal Collective! Cat Power!

LAD TIDINGS THIS month, as we can


announce that Uncut will once again
be hooking up with our kindred
spirits at the End Of The Road festival this
September. As usual, well be hosting the Tipi
Tent, and a bunch of Q&As with the festivals
major stars, at this lovely event; more details
to be revealed at www.uncut.co.uk
imminently. In the meantime, the powerful
2016 lineup includes Joanna Newsom,

Animal Collective, Thee Oh Sees, Cat


Power, Devenda Banhart, GOAT,
Phosphorescent, Eleanor Friedberger, Bat
For Lashes, M Ward, Jeffrey Lewis, Steve
Mason, Bill Ryder-Jones and Field Music.
The details for your diary? September 2-4, at
the Larmer Tree Gardens near Blandford, in
Dorset. The place to buy 195 tickets? www.
endoftheroadfestival.com. See you there!
Joanna
Newsom

   

  
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I N STA N T KA R M A!

THE

PLAYLIST
ON THE STEREO THIS MONTH

PJ HARVEY
The Hope Six Demolition Project ISLAND
Rumbustious new broadside from the Peej,
cementing her current rep as the Queen
Of Protest Rock.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
& THE E STREET BAND
Live In Chicago 19/1/16
LIVE.BRUCESPRINGSTEEN.NET

The essential audio companion to this


months cover story, gratis from the Boss
Oh, the price you pay!

IM NEW HERE

KIRAN LEONARD

Recommendedthismonth:aZappa-infused,perfectionchasing boy wonder from the Manchester fringes

and meandered like a one-man Elephant 6


ERTAIN FACTS ABOUT Kiran Leonard fog
collective, and saw Leonard take influence from
discussions of his music. Hes 20 years old,
Sufjan Stevens, Van Dyke Parks and Henry Cow.
studying languages at Oxford, and his
Grapefruit is longer, louder, and more freeform;
online recorded output stretches back to when he
what he calls unfettered derivation of his
was 14 hes deleted much of his earlier work for
current loves, The Fall, Sun City Girls, William
not being good enough. The Saddleworth-raised
Onyeabor and The Minutemen.
musicians debut LP proper, 2013s Bowler Hat
Leonard is a permeable membrane; the bucolic
Soup, contained 20 instruments more if you
Half Ruined Already was inspired by Werner
count the radiator. The lead single from new LP
Herzogs Last Words, and chuntering freakout
Grapefruit is 16 minutes long, and encompasses
ndr Gongor is named after a
Shellac clangour, ambient drone,
very tall Mongolian man. Lyrically,
and Slint malevolence that breaks
IM YOUR FAN
however, he admits he can be
into hardcore before flipping into
emotionally oblique. Perhaps
warped, string-laden jangle-pop.
unsurprisingly, last summer he
Until recently, Leonard was
released an EP exploring that
fighting another indie musician
tendency: Abandoning Noble
(Kieran Leonard) over use of the
Goals took Daniel Johnstons
name. The situation grew really
emotional honesty as its high
sinister and quite discomfiting, he
standard, and concluded that its
says, though there was never any
a natural, cowardly impulse to pull
doubt that hed be the victor. Even
away at the last minute.
if hed ended up conceding, there
With his music being so sprawling,
would be no mistaking Leonard, an
Leonards only governing impulse is
intense high-achiever, for anyone
to be as conscientious as possible.
else: his music is dense, ambitious,
The best thing about Kate Bush
and betrays a rare depth of thought
is her thoughtfulness, he says. I
about sequencing and composition,
dont get the sense shes ever made a
along with arts role in life. Its
creative decision that didnt have an
something I take quite seriously,
immense amount of thought behind
thinking about how I respond to
it, and thats difficult. Its a brilliant
certain things, he says. If you
thing to value, to have a bit of selfthink about how important pieces
belief without being a narcissist.
of art have affected you, it can help
DAVID BREWIS,
Willing yourself to have selfyou to make affecting music.
belief is different from having it, he
His first musical loves were his
FIELD MUSIC
concludes. I dont think about my
mums copies of OK Computer and a
opinion of what I make very much.
B-52s mix, though his older brother
Which, of course, is its own kind
giving him The Mars Voltas Frances
of self-belief. LAURA SNAPES
The Mute age 10 opened up a whole
new realm of possibility, he says.
Discovering Frank Zappa later
Grapefruit is out March 25 on Moshi
wired the way he thinks about
Moshi. Kiran Leonard tours the UK
music, which is unabashedly
MarchApril, starting at Leeds
proggy. Bowler Hat Soup thrashed
Brudenell Social Club (March 24)

SEBASTIAN MATTHES/MANOX; ANDY MARTIN

Kiran is one of
those people
who are so
talented and
so singular that
its exciting to
wonder what
he might do
next. Hes
already made
some great
music, but you
feel he is going
to go much
further

10 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

IGGY POP/TARWATER/ALVA NOTO


Leaves Of Grass MORR MUSIC
Beyond Josh Homme, another radical
Iggy collaboration: here, he recites
Walt Whitmans greatest hits over
discreet German electronica.
KEVIN MORBY
Singing Saw DEAD OCEANS
Game-changing third solo set from
the Woods alum, redolent of Love And
Hate-era Leonard Cohen.
GIMMER NICHOLSON
Christopher Idylls LIGHT IN THE ATTIC
The great lost Ardent album a ringing
set of guitar instrumentals recorded in
Memphis in 1968, more Robbie Basho
than Big Star.
CATE LE BON
Crab Day TURNSTILE
One crustacean under a groove! Sprung,
freaky fourth from the Welsh
contrarian in LA.
LETS EAT
GRANDMA
Deep Six Textbook
TRANSGRESSIVE

Impressively uncanny
debut of two teenagers
with a ritualistic
East Anglian take
on peak Bjrk.
KONONO N1
Konono N1 Meets
Batida CRAMMED DISCS
Everyones favourite
Congolese thumb-piano
fiends hook up with an
Angolan producer to
recalibrate expectations
of African music.

LetsEat
Grandma

THE DEAD TONGUES


Montana SELF-RELEASED
One for Hiss Golden Messenger and Phil
Cook fans; a bluesy fellow traveller steps
out of the North Carolina woods.
TRD, GRS OCH STENAR
Box Set ANTHOLOGY
Six LPs of churning Swedish psych jams?
Welcome to the Uncut offices, friends!
Forregularupdates,checkourblogsatwww.
uncut.co.uk and follow @JohnRMulvey on Twitter

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ON THE HIGHWAY
Your guide to this months freeCD
1MARGO PRICE

5AZIZA BRAHIM

Hurtin (On The Bottle)

Calles De Dajla

A rowdy welcome this month,


courtesy of one of 2016s breakout
stars. Margo Price is a no-bullshit
country singer with great songs,
a compelling backstory, and the
Album Of The Month berth in
this months Uncut. Check the
small print for Hurtin (On
The Bottle), too; one of the
co-writers is another Uncut
darling, Caitlin Rose.

Chris Eckman long occupied


similar territory to Richmond
Fontaine, thanks to his
assiduous piloting of The
Walkabouts. Now, though,
hes more associated with
the nurturing of new African
music, via his productions for his
own Glitterbeat label. Heres his
latest striking project, an album
with this mighty singer from the
Western Sahara.

FREE
CD!
warmth; an apt way of describing
Hlose Letissiers lovely vocal
performance. Synthpop froideur
is not, mercifully, in evidence

6GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS

TheSolar
Motel Band

2CHRIS FORSYTH AND


THE SOLAR MOTEL BAND
The RarityOfExperience Pt II
Long favoured in the Uncut
office, Forsyth and his bands
magnificently sprung jams reach
a new high on their latest album.
Heres the title track, notable for one
of Forsyth and second guitarist
Paul Sukeenas regular Televisionstyle face-offs; at once fraught and
utterly ecstatic.

9WHITE DENIM

The most Southern record that


Ive made, says the old Grant Lee
Buffalo mainman of his deeply
twanging eighth solo set, The
Narrows. You can hear it pointedly
on Cry Cry, in which Phillips
reconnects with his Native
American heritage by tackling
the shameful and brutal Indian
Removal of the 1800s.

Holda You (Im Psycho)

GrantLee
Phillips

7HERON OBLIVION
Oriar

12 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

As with so many emerging Welsh


talents (cf Cate Le Bon), Meilyr
Jones has served time in the orbit
of Gruff Rhys. How To Recognise
A Work Of Art, though, is a brassladen trinket of baroque-pop thats
closer in spirit to 90s Britpop
outliers like The Divine Comedy
rather than Super Furry Animals.

Changes

Its been six years, surprisingly,


since Liverpools prime latterday
psychedelicists made an album.
Distance Inbetween, though, is a
striking comeback, managing to
reference formative influences such
as the Bunnymen and early Floyd,
while packing a heftier punch
thats just as redolent of Queens
Of The Stone Age.

Very much a representative song


title and, indeed, song from
Richmond Fontaine and their
frontman Willy Vlautin, longtime
master of the hard-luck hymnal.
Sadly, after a heroic run, this marks
the last appearance of the band on
an Uncut CD: Richmond Fontaine
are calling it a day in the wake of
one last LP: You Cant Go Back If
Theres Nothing To Go Back To.

A new lineup has, ironically,


propelled James Petrallis
Texan boogie heroes back to the
breakneck euphorics of their early
records hence this screaming
highlight from their forthcoming
Stiff. Taking up where the Solar
Motel Band left off, perhaps
wait for another choice section
of fried duelling guitars.

How To Recognise A
Work Of Art

10CHARLES BRADLEY

Chasing The Tail Of A Dream

I Cant Black It Out If I Wake


Up And Remember

13MEILYR JONES

Cry Cry

3THE CORAL

4RICHMOND FONTAINE

grappled their way to the pe


OK Computer.

A bit less elegiac, this one, being


one of the more fervid jams from
Heron Oblivions debut set of
ultra-heavy folk-rock. The
swooning voice may be familiar,
belonging as it does to the normally
less turbulent Meg Baird. Her
bandmates, meanwhile, feature
core members of the venerated
Comets On Fire, reconfigured for
maximum psychedelic potency.

8CHRISTINE AND THE


QUEENS (FEATURING
PERFUME GENIUS)
Jonathan
Chaleur Humaine, from which
this glimmering electronic gem is
plucked, sold by the sackload in its
native France, but has now been at
least partly translated from the
original French for more wary
Anglophones. Chaleur Humaine,
we should note, means Human

A sneak preview of the Screaming


Eagle Of Souls forthcoming third
album, as Bradley turns the Black
Sabbath chestnut into a deep soul
slow burn worthy of Solomon Burke.
It reminds me of the day my mom
left me, Bradley tells us on page 7.
I listened to that Black Sabbath
album a lot around that time, and
when I listen to that last part, I can
still hear her last goodbye.

Meilyr
Jones

14JEFF COWELL
Not Down This Low

Another delightful stab of laidback


twang from the well-connected Mr
Ward. As if his CV werent already
star-spangled enough, guests on
his eighth album from which this
track is plucked include Peter
Buck, KD Lang and Neko Case.

An archive find, now, from Numero


Groups outstanding Wayfaring
Strangers: Cosmic American Music
collection of genuinely lost 70s
songs. Cowell, it seems, fetched up
in mid-70s Chicago after military
service and made a couple of sweet
Americana records. Not Down
This Low comes from the second,
Lucky Strikes And Liquid Gold.
Good luck finding an original; the
pressing only ran to 200 copies!

12KIRAN LEONARD

15BOB MOULD

Pink Fruit [Radio Edit]

Voice In My Head

Sixteen minutes in its full version


(to be found on Leonards second
album, Grapefruit), Pink Fruit is
indicative of a rare young British
talent; one with the chops to mix it
with next-level players like The
Dirty Projectors. Amid much ornate
complexity, theres potentially an
even more powerful comparison to

Last years faint hopes of a Hsker


D revival proved premature, but
Moulds energetic re-engagement
with his past continues. Voice In
My Head takes up where 2014s
Beauty And Ruin left off, being a
clangorous companion piece to
Sugars Hoover Dam, of all
excellent things.

11M WARD Confession

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AN AUDIENCE WITH...

Jeff
Lynne

Interview: Michael Bonner


Portrait: Rob Shanahan

The ELO mainman is back, talking famous friends and collaborators: Paul
McCartney? He gave me a great big hug. Geor e Harrison? We hit it off right away!
O I REGRET not touring more in the last 30 years?
wonders Jeff Lynne, as he considers ELOs
forthcoming run of European tour dates.
No, to be honest. Ive had more fun in the
studio. Ive learnt a ton of stuff in that period!
It has been an exceptional time for Lynne
recently: ELOs 2014 comeback show at Londons
Hyde Park sold out in 15 minutes, while last year
he released Alone In The Universe, the first album of new ELO music
in 15 years. This summer, meanwhile, they will play Glastonbury.
It seems unlikely, though, that Lynnes return to live performance will
keep him from the studio for long. Indeed, every room in Jeff Lynnes LA
home is extensively wired for sound. Ive got mic lines going from every
room into the control room, he explains. I can record in any room. You
can also change the sound of rooms just by where you place the mic.
The versatility of his residential recording set-up established, Lynne
settles back to answer your questions on all aspects of his illustrious
career from ELO mainstay to producer, Traveling Wilbury and Beatle
confidant. Along the way, Bob Dylans garage is discussed, the contents
of Roy Orbisons car boot are disclosed and Lynne reveals the identity of
his favourite ELO album. He also confesses the formative influence on his
career of George Formby. Yeah, he admits in his soft Birmingham
accent. It was the banjolele that did it for me

NEAL PRESTON

STAR QUESTION
Youre Tom Pettys
best producer.
Do you plan on
making another
album with him?
Roger McGuinn
I first met Tom at a
Bob Dylan concert in Birmingham,
when Tom and The Heartbreakers
were backing him. The next time
I met him, we passed each other
in cars and we stopped to have a
chat. Who invited Tom to join The
Traveling Wilburys? The Wilburys
was just me and George to start with
and we thought, Right, who should
we have in it? George thought of
Dylan. That was a good idea. Then
I thought of Roy Orbison. We both
liked Tom very much, so we said,
Lets have Tom that should do it.
Thats how the Wilburys came

14 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

about. Yes, I would like to produce


with Tom again one day, if he ever
wants me to. I cant make him do it!
Are cellists the biggest animals
in rock? Chris Bradbury, via email
I wouldnt say that! Some of them
were quite mellow. But I havent
spoken to any for about 35 years. We
used to have three consecutive days
for the string sessions. I used to look
forward to those. But in the end, it
was a pain as they didnt always
play the way I wanted them to. No,
they werent rock animals. But the
unions were rock animals in those
days. Theyd stop playing when the
clock struck the hour. Theyd just
put the gear away while you were
still recording, which is terrible. Id
never do that to anyone. Theyve got
to be a bit more humble now due to
all the great string samplers. And a
computer doesnt argue with you.

TheTravelingWilburys:
(l-r)Dylan,Lynne,Petty,
Orbison and Harrison

STAR QUESTION
I once asked you
how you make a
voice sound on
any given track.
You told me you
pretend to be
someone else. On
Confusion, I asked you if you
were pretending to be Roy
Orbison and you told me no,
Helen Shapiro. Who were you
pretending to be on the track
Stepping Out? One of my
many favourite tracks.
Francis Rossi, Status Quo
I might have been joking! But
theres one on the new album that
sounds like it could have been
written by Roy Orbison Im
Leaving You. Its a big old ballad
and I pretended I was Roy when I
was writing it. I often think about
Roy in his early days, how him and
his mate, Joe Nelson, used to make
up their songs. They used to sit
around strumming and I thought, I
wonder what chord theyd go to in

this song It seemed


does sound like an old Roy Orbison
B-side. Its not as good as one of his,
of course, but there you go. Roy was
the sweetest guy youd ever wish to
meet. In Wilburys sessions, hed
pull me out to the side and say, Hey
Jeffy he used to call me Jeffy
and hed take me outside and open
the trunk of his car. Thered be five
cream cakes and hed say, You can
have the first pick. What a lovely
thing. Roy Orbison giving me the
first pick when Bob Dylan and
George Harrison were in there
Bob Dylan is the only Traveling
Wilbury for whom you didnt
produce a solo album. Was
it ever on the cards? Ollie, Carlisle
No, it never was. We did a demo
once of him singing Im In The
Mood For Love in his garage. There
was a little 24-track in the corner.
We did Handle With Care there,
too. I first met Bob when I played
the Budokan in Tokyo. I looked over
and he was sitting on a monitor,
watching me. I thought, Oh, shit.

Ihaventseen
BevBevanfor
about45years,
soIdoubtaMove
reunionwould
ever happen!

AN AUDIENCE WITH...
Id have done it better if Id known
he was watching. Anyway, after
the gig, I was signing autographs
for a line of about 20 people. I said to
this polite Japanese girl, Do you
mind if I just take a page out of your
note book? So I took the page and
her pen and got into the queue to get
Bob Dylans autograph
What was it like working with
Brian Wilson on Let It Shine?
Adam Miller, via email
I really enjoyed doing the sessions.
I remember fixing the bassline,
which went from the highest letter
on the grid right down to the bottom
E or A string, and he walked in while
I was doing it. He stared at me and
said, Thats the longest goddam
bass string Ive ever seen! I was
quite pleased with that! The one
thing that stopped Pet Sounds from
being the best album ever made was
that the titles are not memorable at
all. The tunes are just sensational,
though. Ever since, Ive been a giant
fan of Brian.

ALAMY; GETTY IMAGES

STAR QUESTION
Black Sabbath,
Duran Duran,
The Streets, Judas
Priest, Nick Drake,
UB40, Wizzard,
Napalm Death
and of course ELO
how does Birmingham produce
so many successful bands?
PS: you are a genius.
James Dean Bradfield,
Manic Street Preachers
There does seem to be something in
the water. In the early to mid-60s, it
was fantastic. There were that many
groups. It was rampant. Everybody
was in a group or if they werent,
they were gonna be in a group. It
was a fantastic atmosphere. And
youd all end up in the Cedar Club or
the Rum Runner after youd finished
your gig in the evening. It certainly
was a great apprenticeship.

ELOinthe70s:
BevBevanin
red flares!

Did the
spaceship
ever break
down at
live gigs?
John
Fellowes,
via email
Yeah. Bits of it
would. Wed
all come up on
hydraulic risers
through the stage
and a few nights
people would get
stuck with just their
head poking out the
stage. It was the
funniest thing.
I was supposed to be
doing my intro, and
Id just be doubled up laughing.
No, I never got stuck in it. If my
riser was going too quick or it was
shaking, Id jump on someone elses
and go up with them.
When you were producing The
Beatles in the 90s, there was a
rumour of a third Lennon demo
that was going to be built into a
full song. What was it, and how
far did you and the remaining
Beatles get before scrapping it?
Alan Wolstencroft, Las Vegas
It was a ballad called Now And
Then. We put a few instruments
down and Ringo added a harmony
on it. I did a couple of big edits on it,
Paul liked it, I liked it. But George
didnt like it, so we didnt carry on.
Yeah, working with them was
amazing, everyone in the same
room for the first time in 20 years,
sitting there reminiscing about all
the Beatles things that you ever
wanted to know. Then they had to
record something! That was so scary
the responsibility! We recorded
the music, then I added Johns voice
in the middle of the night, when
no-one was around, in case it didnt
work, so I could do a runner. I came
to the studio the next morning and
Paul was already there. He came up
me, gave me a great big hug and
id, Youve done it, well done.
hat was a big relief!
Of all your studio albums apart
from Alone In The Universe,
which is your personal favourite?
Chris Minns, via email
Its between On The Third Day and
Out Of The Blue. Its something
about the primitiveness. On The
Third Day was just two cellos and
one violin and Im pleased with
those arrangements. The songs are
good, a little bit strange, but then I
started on the big orchestras. It was
a bit of a leap to a 40-piece bloody
orchestra from two cellos and one
violin. I enjoyed that for the next few
albums, then got fed up with it.

ELO:thecomeback
show,HydePark,
London, 2014

Do you have
a favourite
memory of George Harrison?
Lee Reader, via email
I do, actually. It was when I first met
him. I was with Dave Edmunds. He
asked Dave Edmunds to ask me if Id
produce Cloud Nine. So we went to
Friar Park. We rang the bell, he
didnt answer it, but Olivia came
and said, Oh, hes down by the
lake, go and look for him. So I went
down to the lake, and me and
George ended up in his boat. He
said, Watch out, because were
going through some tunnels in a bit.
Dont put your hands on the sides of
the boat to try and hold on. What
youve got to do is grip with your
bum. I thought that was hilarious.
We hit it off right away.

STAR QUESTION
I was privileged
to witness your
warm-up show
in LA where you
played a bit of
everything
throughout your
career. From old to new, what
track/tracks are you most eager
to play on your upcoming tour?
Dhani Harrison
Thats a tricky one, I like all of
them theyve been so good to me,
my little offspring. Mr Blue Sky,
its always great to play that one.
How long have I known Dhani?
Since I ended up living at Georges
house, Friar Park, for about six
months when we made Cloud Nine. I
used to play football with Dhani. He
was only a little lad then, a happy
little soul. We worked together on
Brainwashed [George Harrisons
posthumously released album]. That
was a strain. It was so depressing,
as I couldnt turn around and say,
What do you think of that? George
wasnt there to answer for himself.

songs? Patrick Chapman, via email


No, not really. Theyre just wacky
little tunes. There were some highly
peculiar influences stuff my dad
used to play on his radiogram, old
George Formby songs. It was the
banjolele that did it for me! When I
joined the group, they were called
The Nightriders, the first band I ever
saw in Birmingham. They had a
guitarist called Big Al [Johnson],
who had a Fender Strat and a
beautiful amp. When theyd stop
playing and were putting the gear
away, hed let me have a go on it for
a bit. I took his place in the group
about three years later. Roy Wood
was also in the group a few years
before that, so there we are.
Are you still in contact with Bev
Bevan or Roy Wood and any
chance of a Move reunion?
Jerry McGuire, Charlotte, NC
I havent seen Bevan for about
45 years, so I doubt that would ever
happen. Ive seen Roy a couple
of times in the last few years
when back in Birmingham. I got
this honoree certificate from
Birmingham University. I invited
him to that but no, I think, we move
on and do what weve got to do. Do I
prefer working alone as opposed to
collaborating with other musicians?
It all depends on the individual
case. I do have somebody with me at
all times, my engineer, Steve, whos
obviously there. He also is a great
shaker and tambourine player. Do
I ever think it would be nice to have
Ben Bevan drum-fill here and there?
No, I just love playing everything
myself, the drums, the bass, and I
love doing the harmonies. Basically,
its what I love doing.
Jeff Lynnes ELO are on tour between
April and June; they are also playing
Glastonbury Festival. Visit
jefflynneselo.com for more details

UNCUT.CO.UK
Would you consider updating
any of the Idle Race songs in the
way that you revisited ELO

Log on to see whos in


the hot-seat next month
and to post your questions!


 


      
 
   

      
     
           

     
  

18 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

JEFF BUCKLEY

Hecould
dosomuch.
Itwasalmost
acurse.
February 1993. JEFF BUCKLEY, a hyperactive music
junkie just finding his feet in the New York clubs,
enters Shelter Island Studios and records 40 songs
in three days. As the sessions highlights are finally
released, Uncut hears the inside story of how a
genius singer-songwriter learned his craft via an
eclectic songbook. The goal, says his A&R man,
was to allow him the time and space to find out
which Jeff Buckley he was going to be...
Story: Graeme Thomson
Portrait: David Gahr

Jeff Buckley in
New York City,
May, 1994

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

19

JEFF BUCKLEY

JACK VARTOOGIAN/GETTY IMAGES

TEVE BERKOWITZ LIKENS


Jeff Buckleys first solo
recordings to a journey
undertaken without any
map or clear destination.
It was a musical exercise
in self-discovery, says
Berkowitz, who signed
Buckley to Columbia in the
autumn of 1992. There was no plan. It
was very loose, like a conversation in
someones living room. Jeff would move
around. Start, stop, start again. I
remember he played a Curtis Mayfield
song, and then I said, Know any Sly? He
sighed and said, I dont really know any
Sly, but even as hes saying it hes forming
chords and, I swear to God, what comes
out is the Everyday People thats on this
record. It was breathtaking.
Almost a quarter of a century after the private conversation
that took place at New Yorks Shelter Island Sound studios in
February 1993, some choice extracts are being made public.
The third LP of archive recordings to emerge since his death
in May 97, You And I captures Buckley when he was 26,
living in a crappy walk-up apartment in the Lower East
Side with girlfriend Rebecca Moore, consuming
music by day and performing in the citys cafs,
clubs and bars by night. The creativity was just
pouring out of him at that point, says his
manager, Dave Lory.
Buckley had made an appreciable early impact
at the Greetings From Tim Buckley tribute
to his late father, held at St Anns Church in
Brooklyn in April 1991. Following a brief stint
in Gary Lucas psych-rock band Gods And
Monsters, in the spring of 1992 he began playing
solo spots around New York, most auspiciously at
Sin- , a tiny Irish bar in the East Village. Come
late summer, limousines were lining St Marks
Place, ferrying suitors from every major record
company. Steve Berkowitz was one of them,
although he preferred to walk. I was sucked in by
his voice and guitar playing, he says. The way he
was singing and playing these songs, which were
mostly covers, seemed fully orchestrated. Yet it was casually
done; it seemed spontaneous and unrehearsed.
This constant promise of vaulting transformation is
preserved on You And I. Hopping between electric and
acoustic guitar, piano and organ, Buckley attempted around
40 songs over three days. The 10 tracks eventually selected
for the album are by turns playful, illuminating, alchemical
and deeply moving. There is raw slide-blues, smooth
nu-soul and heart-stopping balladry. Alongside an
embryonic version of Grace, later the title track of his 1994
debut album, are radically reconstructed versions of songs
by artists as diverse as Sly Stone, Bob Dylan and The Smiths.
Throughout, the mood was relaxed. There was a lot of
good coffee going down, says Berkowitz. This is not a
euphemism for drug-taking! Were playing music and
drinking coffee, and then were drinking a couple of beers,
as well. Towards the end of Led Zeppelins Night Flight,
Buckley stops the song in its tracks, frustrated or distracted

20 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Vartoogian
Studios,NewYork,
February 6, 1992

Jeffwas
serious
abouthis
work,
maybeto
afault

STEVE
ADDABBO

by something. The one new piece on show,


Dream Of You And I, is little more than an
extemporised sketch, prefaced by Buckleys
sweet, spoken-word explanation of the dream
that inspired it. It was a concert for two,
engineer Steve Addabbo recalls fondly. Those
sessions were spellbinding. That has nothing to
do with his death or anything that happened
subsequently. I felt the same way at the time.
As the sole witnesses, Berkowitz and Addabbo were given
a ringside seat at the birth of a legend. Now, joined by four
more of Buckleys intimates, they piece together the story of
Jeff Buckleys first steps towards greatness.
STEVE BERKOWITZ (A&R executive at Columbia):
We signed Jeff in the autumn of 1992 with the understanding
that he would have complete control of his music. That was
in the contract. He was capable of doing so much, the initial
goal was to allow him the time and space to find out which
Jeff Buckley he was going to be: are we going to wait for this
flower to bloom, or are we going to cut it off? My job was to
give him time to bloom.
MICHAEL TIGHE (friend; guitarist in Buckleys live
band, 1994-1996): I can remember Jeff holding this thick
record contract in his hand on the night he was doing a show
at [Brooklyn arts venue] PS1. He was a little scared, but it was

BERKOWITZ: By early 93, the record


company is asking, So, what are you doing?
Not much! We hang around a lot. He comes to
my house for Christmas, he mimes Warner
Bros cartoons with my son. We go to a lot of
gigs, play a lot of music, drink a lot of coffee.
Hes playing every bump and hole in the wall
in the city, but four, five, six months after
he signed, there are no plans to record. So I
suggest to Jeff, Why dont we go into this nice
studio with this guy I know, relax for a couple
of days, play everything you know, and at the
end you can pick out three or four things that
can be the beginnings of an idea for an
album? And he said, OK, lets do that.
STEVE ADDABBO (producer and owner of
Shelter Island Sound studios, New York):
They needed a Table Of Contents session, just
to put Jeff in the studio and see what he can do.
I knew about his dad, but I didnt know much
about Jeff at that point. I still remember his
intensity. He looked you straight in the eye. Id
done first records by Suzanne Vega and Shawn
Colvin, and I knew the door he was going
through. I didnt want to impose myself, but I
tried to make him comfortable. Its not a huge
studio. The recording area is maybe 20 feet by
16. The equipment went back to 1979 it was
vintage, tube mics and a lot of that old vibe.
BERKOWITZ: Steve had a beautiful studio,
with good instruments and nice guitars. Jeff
brought his Telecaster, I brought my Gibson
ES-330, and he used one of Steves beautiful
Guild acoustic guitars. There was no band.
Nobody was going to tell him who his band
was going to be.

YOUANDI:
FACTBOX
Recorded: February 3-5, 1993,
Shelter Island Sound, New York
Personnel: Jeff Buckley,
guitar and vocals
Engineer: Steve Addabbo
TRACKLIST:
Just Like A Woman: written
and recorded by Bob Dylan,
Blonde On Blonde, 1966
Everyday People: written by
Sylvester Stewart, recorded
by Sly & The Family Stone,
Stand!, 1969
Dont Let The Sun Catch You
Cryin: written by Joe Greene,
first recorded by Louis Jordan,
released January 1946
Grace: written by Jeff Buckley
and Gary Lucas, later recorded
on Grace, 1994
Calling You: written by Bob
Telson, recorded by Jevetta
Steele on the soundtrack to
Bagdad Cafe, 1987
Dream Of You And I: written
by Jeff Buckley, previously
unreleased
The Boy With The Thorn In His
Side: written by Morrissey and
Marr, recorded by The Smiths,
The Queen Is Dead, 1985
Poor Boy Long Way From
Home: traditional, recorded by
Bukka White on a 1939 field
recording by John Lomax
Night Flight: written and
recorded by Led Zeppelin,
Physical Graffiti, 1975
I Know Its Over: written by
Morrissey and Marr, recorded
by The Smiths, The Queen Is
Dead, 1985

dont discuss it, but its clear hes going,


Oh shit, Im recording for The Man, every
note I sing is going on tape! You think about
that once or twice and youre not as present
as you should be. I could always tell when
he was nervous, because I thought his face
was going to crack.
ADDABBO: I think Jeff felt the pressure.
Number one, Im following in my fathers
footsteps. Number two, Im on Columbia,
and theres a lot of expectation. Jeff took
it all very seriously and to heart. He was
not a flake by any means; he was very
conscientious and serious about his work,
maybe to a fault. He knew he was taking some
big first steps, and I felt he was very aware
of this impending machine coming along.
Berkowitz was very nurturing. He was very
aware of the delicacy of the situation.
BERKOWITZ: If you could hear the rest of the
tapes from day one, a lot of it would be really
aggravating, because its me sitting next to Jeff
playing pencils, tapping on cups, and singing
along. Hes tight. His voice isnt opened up. So
we drink some coffee, we drink some beer. We
get to four or five in the afternoon and his eyes
start to close, his voice starts to accelerate,
and another octave appears. I slip out of the
room and behind the glass. Ive done my job,
which was to aid him to become free of the
circumstances and just play what he was
feeling. By the end of the afternoon of the first
day it was loose, and he was happy to be there.
Its, OK, this is good, see you tomorrow.
ADDABBO: Hed come in around one oclock
and wed work until eight or nine. He was
performing and singing the whole time,
so it was quite a long stretch each day.

DAVE LORY (manager, 1993-1997): He was


all about the live stuff, not so much recording
ADDABBO: We set him up so he just could
at that stage. He would jump off a cliff and
Jeffscovers,fromtop:BobDylan,SlyStone,LouisJordan,Jevetta
wander from instrument to instrument. He
I would say, Have you got a parachute? and
Steele,TheSmiths,BukkaWhite,LedZeppelin
had an acoustic guitar station, an electric
hed reply, I think so! It was part instinct,
guitar station, a Wurlitzer electric piano, and
but mostly that he really knew what the hell
we placed a mic in a harmonium, so he could go back and forth right away.
he was doing. He was the only artist I trusted 100 per cent blindly.
He was using headphones most of the time, and we just let the tapes roll.
ADDABBO: There was such an immediate emotional connection. When he
BERKOWITZ: We get to the studio on the first day, and Jeffs very tight. We
started to sing he just went someplace else. He could go from a blues growl
to an incredible soprano, Led Zeppelin to Ave
BuckleylivewithGaryLucas
Maria. He had the octaves! I had to make sure he
(left)andJuliaHaywardatthe
GreetingsFromTimBuckley
wasnt screwing up my mic settings, because
concert,StAnnsChurch,
he would go from a whisper to waaarrrgh. Id go
Brooklyn, April 26, 1991
diving for the dials. It was pretty humbling to
be in the vicinity and hear what he could do.
I specifically remember wondering what path we
should take, because he could do so much it was
almost like a curse. To make a record you have to
have an artistic direction, and he had so many
facets. So that was part of the purpose of the
sessions: What do we have? What have I signed?
It was fascinating to be there.
BERKOWITZ: There was no plan. I had seen
him play so many times, and as the sessions
went on I was making a list of the songs he had
done. I might suggest others, or he might bring
something up. He would move around, he would
start, he would stop, he would start again.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

21

JACK VARTOOGIAN/GETTY IMAGES

also pretty exciting. He knew Columbia could


get his music out there, but he also knew he
was very green as far as songwriting and
developing his sound went.

JEFF BUCKLEY

TowerRecords,
Westwood,Los
Angeles, May 3, 1995

Steve Addabbo on
the potential for
You And I Pt 2
HERES A LOT
more where this
record came from! Even
today, I can go to any spot
on these tapes and be
transfixed. Its not as if
these 10 tracks are the
only good spots on the
tapes. There wasnt a
defining moment; there
was just a lot of great
stuff going on. I heard
Hallelujah for the first
time at this session. I
wasnt familiar with the
Leonard Cohen (inset)
version, and I thought,
What the hell is this?
It was a little different
from the released
version, but it had
a raw energy, and the
delicacy of his voice
was something else.
To be so quiet
and yet so
clear. It was
an amazing
moment.
Theres
so much
good
stuff
still on
there.

22 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

I might say, Wanna do it again? Wanna try it slower?


It was loose, like a conversation in someones living room.
ADDABBO: I was not producing him by any means.
We were just letting him do whatever he felt like. A song
wouldnt necessarily be done the same way twice. It
might be much faster, or slower, or hed move his capo up.
Sometimes he would just grab stuff out of the air and do
something in a way hed never done it before. Just Like A
Woman was like that. He seemed to decide to sing it only
after hed started playing.
TIGHE: We had discovered Blonde On Blonde and Astral
Weeks around that time. Thats when he was really getting
into those records. I remember he was housesitting for someone in the West Village, and
we would listen to those albums all the time
at her place. We also bonded over rural blues,
particularly Bukka White. He played all these
songs at his solo shows.
BERKOWITZ: Calling You was a very
popular live song for him. The movie it was
from [Bagdad Cafe] was kind of underground,
but people knew the song. It was like a hit
that hadnt been a hit. Those beautiful vocal
curlicues at the top of Calling You are part of
him discovering his own voice and letting it
fly. I call it the Flying Buckleys, his own
version of that Roy Orbison or Tony Bennett
[crescendo]. It was like a delicious exercise
machine, that song. It felt like a great relief
on his part to get that part of his voice going.

front. He liked the British and Irish thing. He loved The


Rolling Stones, he loved Pin Ups by Bowie; that was a record
he knew backwards. He loved punk, he loved British indie.
At this time, he really loved Lush and the Cocteau Twins.
DAPHNE BROOKS (Author of Jeff Buckleys Grace 33):
He was Spotify before Spotify! He had this vast archival
memory, and the ability to stream it. What he did with all
that material was synthesise it into a loving engagement.
He was fearless in being willing to immerse himself in the
moment of performance to see what he could draw out of it.
BERKOWITZ: He didnt play cover songs. He played
other peoples compositions and made them his own. He
consumed the idea and the feel. He was really
a blues singer, I think. He had that religious
depth of feeling that blues music has, or that
Billie Holiday had. You can hear it on Dont
Let The Sun Catch You Cryin, which is just
an exquisite performance.

Hehada
religious
depthof
feeling,
likethe
blues

STEVE
BERKOWITZ

ADDABBO: Then itd be on to The Smiths!


TIGHE: Jeff always thought that Morrissey
was one of the best, if not the best, lyricists. He continued to
do both of The Smiths songs on You And I with his band well
into 1996. Sometimes at the end of a show he would throw in
I Know Its Over with Hallelujah as an encore.
STEVE ABBOTT (label boss at Big Cat, which released
the Live At Sin- EP outside the US): He was a big
Smiths fan. It was perfect for him, route one: intelligent/
controversial lyrics, great guitar lines, and a character out

TIGHE: That song was also sung by Ray


Charles, and there are some real similarities
between Jeff and Ray, in that they were
singers and musicians before they were
songwriters. It was almost like they did tons
of covers in order to get to their own badass
songs. With Jeff, there wasnt much original
material at that point.
BERKOWITZ: He had written Grace with
Gary Lucas, the guitar player in Gods And
Monsters, before they split up. All the stuff
Gary wrote [on guitar], Jeff was very capable of
playing as well, as he did here, with those
fast, repetitive riffs.

ADDABBO: He wasnt confident about his songwriting at


all. He relied on his covers; there were very few original
compositions played throughout the three days.
BERKOWITZ: We had got to the point in the sessions of,
So, what else have you got? when I heard him singing,
You and I, you and I. I said, What is that, where did that
come from? Click. Record. Yeah, this was a dream and
he started telling the story about a gay couple. This was a

GETTY IMAGES

THEONES
THATGOT
AWAY

JEFF BUCKLEY

ABBOTT: Those formative years are all about his influences


rather than his songwriting. He listened to so many things
and managed to channel them into his talent and eventually
come up with something that had his own stamp on it. He
was a musical magpie; he could imitate anything. He did a
great Robert Plant, which you hear on Night
Flight. He did a grumpy Leonard Cohen.
I remember he did a perfect Nusrat Fateh Ali
Khan the night after first hearing him!
LORY: If Jeff met you, he could mimic you
within five minutes. Hed do impersonations
of Beavis & Butthead on the tour bus, or of
record company execs, and it was the same
with music. He could pull the soul out of it.
Even with the worst rap or country, hed find
the good in it. He was like a sponge. Hed
always say, Its about the music, stoopid!

melancholy later on, but in 93 he didnt come across as a


person with a lot of pain. He was overjoyed and hyperactive.
He had a lot of Californian punk-rock energy. Super-positive,
tons of ideas. Id come home from high school and hed be
vaulting over the couch with my toddler brother. Hed make
these elaborate skits as an answering-machine message for
him and his girlfriend, which would include the character of
Spinach The Cat. It was this weird story that would last three
minutes. He would even call me to do rehearsals: Do you
think I should do the Spinach voice like this?

JB
DOES
JB

BERKOWITZ: On the third day of the sessions, I remember


Jeff finally saying, OK, thats it, lets finish them. Which
meant I would listen to them and edit them down and say,
What do you think of these? Hed say, Forget those, but
these are good, or, Lets start to focus on
this. The idea was: pour it all out, record it
all, and then hed pick a few that he liked,
and he could decide what was going to be the
beginnings of the march towards his album.
That was the goal. So this was not meant to be
a big-deal recording session. In fact, as it was
supposed to be a demo, it was cut straight to
16-bit DAT. Thats it! A little too much digital
reverb, perhaps, but that was the times

Steve Abbott
recalls Buckleys
1993 party piece:
reciting an entire
James Brown
album

Other
peopledo
drugs.
Jeffwas
amusic
junkie

DAVE
LORY

ADDABBO: There was no thought of it being


released, it was just a scratch tape of what
went down as we heard it at the time, but its a
pretty clean recording. All in all, at the end of
the third day we had seven and a half hours
of recording. About five 90-minute DATs.
TIGHE: Talking to me, Jeff didnt put a
lot of emphasis on these sessions. It was
just a document of where he was at that
time. He was trying to sculpt that first album
in his head.

BERKOWITZ: Afterwards, things start to speed up. Now


Sin- is crowded, we think hes going to be a star. At the
end of 1993 we start Grace. When we went in to record Grace
it was going to sound like these You And I sessions or his
Sin- EP, but with some background musicians. Thats all
it was going to be, until his brain went into overdrive: more
vocals, more guitar, more developments! The ability was
always there. We heard it at the Shelter Island sessions,
and we knew he would bring it all one day, but we didnt
think it would be that early. With Grace, he allowed the
switch to go on.
InNewYork,
May,1994,
withMichael
Tighe, far right

ABBOTT: Music was his language. I cant remember ever


talking with him about much else. He was a big Guinness
drinker, and we would meet at a bar called Tom & Jerrys,
which had a great jukebox. He would ask how my daughter
was, then it was, Have you heard the new? He sat around
playing guitar all day, and listening to records and cassettes.
He would devour them.
LORY: He was always playing music. If he wasnt playing
he was listening or dancing, or singing. That was his
escapism. Other people do drugs. He was a music junkie. He
was very fun-loving, but there was a vulnerability. He never
really had any roots as a child. You could sense his fear, his
loneliness, and it made you want to protect him more.
TIGHE: He perhaps became a little bit more withdrawn and

ADDABBO: It was very frustrating


over the years to have these
tapes on the shelf. Ive been very
protective of them, but Im glad
theyre coming out. Its the magic
of what we do, that we can hear
Jeff like hes still here.

EALLY, Jeff
could have been
a comedian. One thing
Ill never forget is him
doing every single note,
squeal, yelp and lyric,
all at once, from James
Browns [1963 album]
Live At The Apollo. It
was the most amazing
thing I ever saw him do.
If there was someone he
fancied in the vicinity, or
he just felt like amusing
himself, hed do it. It was
a respectful imitation of
JB, body movements,
the lot. He either spent
a lot of time on it, or he
was just so talented he
could do it. Probably the
latter. It would be on
someones cell phone
nowadays, but Im quite
glad its not. To me, of all
the music he ever made,
that performance was
the most special. It was
absolutely bonkers, but
seminal. That was Jeff,
really. People
sometimes
regard his
music in a kind
of maudlin
manner, but he
was so full of
life.

BERKOWITZ: This was just a


pathway to the record he wanted
to make, but Im happy that people
get to hear it. It shows where hes at
before he becomes more polished and gets deeper
into his groove. Its a really great and important
chapter. And you know what? If wed stayed
three more days, there would have been 40 other
songs! You see, Jeff was never bad. He never
sucked. And he could do anything.
You And I is released on March 11 through
Columbia/Legacy Recordings
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

23

GETTY IMAGES

kind of verboten subject in 1993, but not in Jeffs world.


There are people dying of AIDS all around us in the Village.
That was Dream Of You And I. Its almost some kind of
healing chant. I thought, This is fantastic, this is going to be
an opera, but of course, its just two minutes of his brain
working! We kept thinking we would come back to it one
day. We thought there would be many more days. We didnt
think they would get cut short. And he was never one for
going backwards.

UNDERWORLD

The
Dirty
Epic

UNDERWORLDs odyssey has now


lasted 36 years, since Karl Hyde and
Rick Smith first met. Its a journey
thats taken them from burning
shamans huts to the Cardiff docks,
from the mean streets of New York
to the Essex hinterlands, and all
the way to the Olympics opening
ceremony. And it incorporates
Conny Plank, Debbie Harry, Prince
and the the Samuel Pepys of his
universe. How have they lasted
so long? Karl, says Rick, was the
most annoying person Id ever met.
Story: Michael Bonner
Portrait: David Tonge

DAVID TONGE/GETTY IMAGES

N THE EARLY 90s, Karl Hyde found himself living


at New Yorks Gramercy Park Hotel. His band, a
funk-rock five-piece called Underworld, had
recently broken up and Hyde was working as a
session musician. During the day, he was recording
at Electric Lady Studios with Debbie Harrys band;
by night, he was exploring new methods of writing.
Inspired by the open-ended narratives of Sam
Shepards Motel Chronicles and the vivid reportage
of Lou Reeds New York album, Hyde had taken to
pacing the streets of Lower Manhattan after dark, armed
with a notebook and pen. It was easy pickings, he
remembers. Literally, youve just got to open your
notebook and the stuff just falls in. Youve just got to look
at it and go, Wow, thats a Martin Scorsese moment, isnt it?
There it is, its all there. I wanted to write what I saw and
sing what people speak, because people speak
extraordinary things. It became the basis of what I do.
Meanwhile, in Romford, his close collaborator Rick Smith
experienced an epiphany of his own. It was not a great
time for Karl and me, he admits. We were managing to
just about stay in contact. I had to close down the little
studio that wed built, sell stuff to pay off the bands debts.
I felt very isolated. Then my wife turned round to me and
said, Youve got to start following your heart. Probably the
best single piece of advice Ive had in my life. I had some
desperate ideas. But it didnt go well. In 1990, I think I
earned 135 in the whole year. It was a tricky time.
Within two years, Hyde and Smith had successfully
turned their fortunes around. After what Hyde ruefully

24 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

describes as a failed career for 10 years, he and Smith


best friends and colleagues since 1979 began to enjoy
the benefits of their revitalised band. But Underworlds
trajectory since the early 90s has been unconventional,
to say the least. There have been 16-hour ArtJams in
Tokyo, commissions for the National Theatre, film scores
and the not-so-small matter of the London Olympic Games
to keep them occupied. Last year, they celebrated the 20th
anniversary of 1994s album Dubnobasswithmyheadman;
next month they release Barbara Barbara, We Face
A Shining Future their ninth studio album and first
for six years.
Reflecting today on those pivotal events from a quarter
of a century ago where the future for Hyde and Smith
looked to be anything but shining Hyde insists that the
pair have constantly remade themselves in response to
both opportunity and insult.
Every time we got ditched, wed go back to this magical,
imaginary Brigadoon that was somewhere out in Berlin,
where these oscillators were vibrating and coming to us via
John Peel, says Hyde. It was based on our love of film
scores, dub, electronics and stuff on the radio. One time,
we rented a little house in Bexhill-on-Sea. Wed instigate
these salons with other musicians. Wed pile up equipment,
plug into an eight-track and rotate around the equipment.
Sometimes you would be in front of the drum pads,
sometimes a guitar, sometimes keyboards. Wed put The
Terminator on the telly, turn off the sound and play to it.
That would become the basis of the music. They were
interesting times.

Two heads are


better than one:
Underworld in
London, 1998
(l-r) Rick Smith
and Karl Hyde

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

25

UNDERWORLD

Dubnobass20th
anniversaryshowat
theRoyalFestival
HallinLondon,
October 11, 2014

VICTOR FRANKOWSKI; PETER NOBLE/REDFERNS

ECENTLY, KARL HYDE has been


working on a new art installation in
Berlin. The city has held a fascination
for him since he first heard David
Bowies Low. He talks enthusiastically
about the deeply esoteric noise clubs
where people play the sound of walking
on gravel on a laptop. They remind him of his time
at art school during the mid-70s, where he was
involved in happenings on the pavement outside
the college gates. I found a big cardboard box and
got inside it and closed the lid, he says. I used to do
that as a kid, if my mum and dad bought a new
dustbin, Id ask if I could just sit in it for a while
and listen to the rain.
Hyde was raised in Bewdley, near Kidderminster.
Growing up, he was used to seeing local luminaries
Robert Plant and Geezer Butler about town They
both bought their chicken wire at the ironmongers
where my mate used to work. Among Hydes most
cherished childhood memories are car journeys
with his father, soundtracked by the radio. In the
60s, it was all AM, so you had these incredible
harmonics coming in because the radio was
retuning itself. Its very evocative. It makes pictures.
I have synesthesia, so for me radio is like going to
the movies, he explains.
Benefiting from the progressive higher education
programmes in place during the 1970s, he enrolled
at Cardiff University. My degree was in video
installation, he says. I built a giant shamans hut
and lived in there, setting fire to things until the
dean asked me if Id kindly set my fires outside of
the building. It was mind-blowing. We were
making tape loops, musique concrte. All the
things Id heard between the channels on the radio
as a kid, and the rain on the roof of the rubbish bin.
While at Cardiff, Hyde formed a band, Screen Gemz
a cartoon, bubblegum version of stuff that was doing
well in the charts. Among their few claims to fame, they
played a gig on the roof of the universitys student union.
Rick Smith whod moved to Cardiff from Ammanford, a

26 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

village in Carmarthenshire was in attendance.


A significant moment for me was seeing Emerson,
Lake & Palmers video for Fanfare For The
Common Man, Smith explains. They shot it at
Montreal Olympic Stadium, in the snow, with their
fur coats on. No audience. It looked so mad and
fantastic and otherworldly, and completely beyond
anything that I could comprehend in terms of my
upbringing and education. When Screen Gemz
played on the students union rooftop,
I thought that was a bit like Emerson,
Lake & Palmer in the Olympic Stadium,
in a Welsh way. They asked me to join the
band. I jumped at it. Within about six weeks
I thought it was the biggest mistake Id made.
I have no idea what impressed me about
Karl, he continues. He was the most
annoying person Id ever met. But I didnt
bugger off. Karl and I have been together
36 years. I dont know how thats happened.
He had a really nice coat, says Hyde of
their first meeting. A navy-blue herringbone
trenchcoat. Clearly it had been expensive at
one point, but he must have bought it in an
Oxfam shop. Rick was fired on enthusiasm. He
had energy. He had a Fender Rhodes and we
needed somebody who played synth. He was
on this electronics course in Cardiff. They had
Freurdays:(l-r)Rick
big modular synths and they were transmitting
Smith,BrynBurrows,
information via laser across Cardiff.
KarlHyde,John
Warwicker, 1984

OHN WARWICKER a former graphics


and fine art student at Camberwell
School Of Arts remembers the first time
he met Hyde and Smith at their house in
Splott, south-east of Cardiffs city centre.
Rick and Karl are odd. I say that with love,
but thats their strength. Its like a marriage
when you go, Why are those people
together? But theres something unseen and
unspoken between them. They rile each other
or respect and enjoy what the other persons

doing, even though its entirely opposite. What


Rick does, Karl couldnt do. Vice versa.
Warwicker joined Hyde and Smith in their
next musical escapade, Freur, an art-pop band.
We were on the dole and living in the docks in
Cardiff, says Hyde. So we decided we were
going to wear make-up and pearls and dress in
bright colours, just to piss everybody off. We were
listening to heavy dub and German electronics.
Low was the big thing for us at that time, and
Kraftwerk. Rick took a loan to buy a Sony
Walkman. He used to walk round Cardiff
ArtJam,Makuhari
Messe, Tokyo, 2007
listening to Computer World.
Being able to take music on the move was
a transforming experience, says Smith.
I was hearing music and seeing the world in
whod had no formal education in art or
a different way. It was the experience of letting
beyond my mother giving me piano lessons
music infect me while I took my journeys and
in music, Tomato is alive with excitement and
let my thoughts ramble.
talent. I could walk in there, pen a drawer and
Freur signed to CBS, and even secured a session
pull out bits of blueprints and it would make
with Conny Plank at his studio near Cologne.
me want to run home and make music.
We were picked up by a giant lemon-yellow
Apart from designing all Underworlds
military troop carrier manned by four bearded,
artwork, Tomato and the band have
long-haired hippies, recalls Hyde. We were
collaborated on a number of projects.
Celebrating 25 years of Tomato
dressed in regulation Freur beads, crimped hair,
They had their first big gig at the Astoria
Underworlds symbiotically
make-up and plastic clothes. That must have
[in 2000] and we needed to do something,
linked design agency
made for an interesting sight.
remembers Warwicker. Do you do a T-shirt?
N 1991, KARL Hyde and Rick Smith joined
I remember eating fried aubergines with
No, lets do a book. But the gigs in three
together with five other like-minded
Conny, says Smith. It was quite overwhelming.
weeks Thats the great thing about the
creatives to form Tomato, a multi-media
We were at the first stages of a proper deal. Which
guys in Tomato. Get it done. Make a virtue
art and design collective. Rick and Karl
was a dream come true when you were signing on
of your ineptitude.
had a bit of a rocky time in the mid-to-late
the dole or washing dishes for tuppence. It might
There have also been a series of ArtJams,
80s, begins John Warwicker. They lost
have been the first time I got on an airplane.
the largest of which took place in Tokyo to
their purpose, they didnt know who they
We had this track at the time, Doot Doot.
launch 2007s Oblivion With Bells album.
were. A few other friends were in a similar
We worked on that and a couple of others with
It was at the Makuhari Messe, which
situation. We decided we would all get
Conny. But the version of the track that we came
makes Earls Court look like a shed, says
together in a room and see what happens.
out with bore no more fruit to the record
Warwicker. The idea was to do a chill-out
Nobody necessarily knew each other.
company. So we moved on very quickly.
room with painting. The wall that we painted
I always liken Tomato to Alcoholics
Freur disbanded in 1986; a year later, Hyde
is 42.5m long by 7.5m high. Bloody big. The
Anonymous. Its a support system
and Smith launched the first incarnation of
idea was, wed start painting, people would
and critical forum.
Underworld. They recorded their debut album
come in, Underworld would play, wed finish
Underworld and Tomato are completely
Underneath The Radar with producer Rupert
the painting afterwards.
different entities in terms of responsibility
Hine, whose credits include Howard Jones,
To mark Tomatos 25th anniversary this
and organisation, says Rick Smith. But in
Stevie Nicks and the Thompson Twins. Hine
year, Warwicker reveals Tomato plans
terms of ethos, stuff to do with spirit and
recalls Hyde and Smith bringing a predictably
to occupy the streets of Tokyo through
process, the idea blurs a great deal. Tomato
unusual set of experimental principles to the
augmented reality! Karl and Rick might
is tremendously important to us. For me,
sessions. Rather than do individual takes of
well be involved
each song, we recorded them playing five or six
songs in a row the side of an album, says Hine.
Iggy. That was another thing that went into the memory
It was a very conceptual idea. Karl is the conceptualist.
banks for Underworld.
Rick is an amazing amplifier for the best sides of Karls
ideas; hes a really good balance for Ricks more passionate
CONVERSATION WITH HYDE and Smith about
skills. But neither one of them is anywhere near the same
their working practices quickly reveals much about
without the other.
their individual interests. Sitting with Hyde in the
But by the end of the 80s, Underworld seemed to
refurbished Renaissance Hotel above St Pancras station, he
have run its course. We went on a stadium tour of America
retrieves from his satchel a black Alwych notebook and a
with Eurythmics, says Smith. It was an awful experience.
white Pentel pen. I spend an hour every morning in a caf,
I hated the music that we made. Id made demos for the last
with my porridge and my tea, and Ill find a corner and Ill
Underworld album [1989s Change The Weather] at home.
write, he explains. Its my daily discipline. Sometimes Ill
My first explorations with a computer, boxes that you
write the conversations that are going on around me. He
plugged in and stuck on the dining-room table. They were
opens the book and begins to recite from his previous days
really successful, but we went and changed them all and
entries. Red suit/What are you looking at/Leaning so
recorded this semi-rock, funk thing. I hated it. At the end
nonchalant/You try too hard/Obvious bust of a sun-head
of the tour, our label and management dropped us.
man/Zebra shopping mall/Hides your hands behind your
While Smith returned to the UK, Hyde based himself in
back/Naked round the middle/Stern in black/Alabaster skin/
the States. He worked at Paisley Park as a session musician
Albino armadillo/Exploding silver pom pom/Leans back
I got to see Miles Davis and meet Maceo Parker and watch
across a chair/Provocative bird of paradise.
Prince put The New Power Generation together before
John Warwicker who along with Hyde and Smith
the call came inviting him to work with Debbie Harry. He
co-founded the design collective Tomato in 1991 describes
signed on a package tour including Harry, The Sisters Of
Hyde as the Samuel Pepys of his universe. We walked the
Mercy, Billy Idol and Iggy Pop. Every night, I got to stand
streets of New York together, following people. People
on the side of the stage and watch Jim [Osterberg] turn into

BLUEPRINTS!
ARTJAMS!
AUGMENTED
REALITY!

Born
Slippywas
myway
ofsaying,
Somebody
please
helpme

KARL
HYDE

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

27

BUNNY
PECULIAR
Karl Hyde explains
how a famous
comedianinfluenced
Underworlds
biggest hit
ORN SLIPPY
IS a map of
a journey
that starts at The Ship on
Wardour Street, goes to
Tottenham Court Road
tube and gets the latenight train back out to
Romford. I was in The
Ship with Graham Wood
from Tomato, his friend
Claire and there was
also this other guy. I
remember staggering out
of the loo, handing this
guy a tenner and going,
Get a round in, mate.
He looked at me with
this kind of wide-eyed,
quizzical expression
and I staggered out the
door onto the street.
I remember he had a
T-shirt with Bastard
Bunny on it. I used to say
for years, Yeah, I was in
The Ship drinking with
Bastard Bunny. Thats all
I could remember, apart
from the expression on
his face. One night I saw
Bill Bailey doing his standup on TV and he did that
face. I realised, I was in
the pub with Bill Bailey!
I revealed this on Radio 4
once, and Bill happened
to be listening to the
show. He got in touch and
went, Yeah, that was me.
I used to wear a Bastard
Bunny T-shirt, because it
said BB. He added
Can I use this in my
stand-up? I said, Of
course. It was good
because
I was able
to close
the
circle.

MIKE MARSLAND/WIREIMAGE

28 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

SmithandHyde
withDarren
Emerson, 1994

would suddenly turn off and youd pick up the


conversation somewhere else. You had this wonderful
juxtaposition. It was instant Dada. Its the same method
that he used on the railway journeys back to Romford,
very late Friday night or Saturday morning, picking up
these remarkable bits of sonic sculpture.
Smith, meanwhile, admits to being a bit obsessed with
sound. The things that turn me on and make me want to
run into a studio are not necessarily music. Theyre visual
things, stimulations pictures, books, architecture.
Recovering from the collapse of Underworld Mark I in
the early 90s, Smiths growing interest in dance music led
him to work with Darren Emerson, an up-and-coming DJ
from Romford, where the band are still based. The whole
Karl/Rick/Underworld/Freur thing was history and
separate, says Smith. When Darren and
I started working together it was a good 18
months before we made anything that was
even barely playable. Karl and I continued
to slowly write and explore bits and pieces.
He was obsessed with the same things that
he always has been singing, writing,
making music. Karlness. There were times
when it was very frustrating. Wed have
this blinding instrumental and Karl would
roll up. I really want to sing! Id think, Oh,
please. It doesnt need a vocal. He wore me
down by being clever and talented and
open to being edited. Im very grateful
that from the 90s on, he would let me
reconstruct, recompose, reinvent his work.
Stuff which for the previous decade, hed
have been very precious about.
Rick and Karl didnt impress me
when I first met them, says Steve Hall,
co-founder of the Junior Boys Own label
and Underworlds A&R since 1992. This
was the early 90s and they looked out of
step with what was going on. They were like two session
musicians whod met a DJ. As I got to know them better,
I realised it was definitely something different. Karl
and Rick have always struck me as gentle guys hippies,
almost thoughtful about their art, their music and
what theyre doing. They used to talk like musicians.
Now theyve got older, they talk like
geography teachers.

where alcohol became my muse, admits Hyde. At art


school, I would carry notebooks with me, get utterly
wasted and end up in some 24-hour drinking den, wake
up the next day with these fantastic drawings and ideas,
which Id then turn into real artworks. I got a first and
I thought, A-ha! Years later, when Rick put this group
together, I remember being advised by someone that
if I was going to have any future at all, I was going to
have to dig deep and find something different. I thought,
I know I went to some very, very dark places, both
physically and emotionally. Alcoholism is a very solitary
place. The curious thing is, a year after I put it down
with some help I realised it had been a suppressant.
Hyde admits that initially he wasnt keen to revisit the
album for a series of anniversary shows in 2014: looking
backwards is not something I enjoy. All the same, its
possible that Hyde who has been sober
for 18 years felt uncomfortable
reconnecting with a highly creative period
fuelled by alcohol. Every night, he
admits. Dark & Long. Come on. Dirty
Epic. Thats the one that often brings me to
tears when we do it, because thats
hardcore for me. Thats broken, very
broken. Conversely, he views the bands
follow-up single, Born Slippy, as the
upside of it. It went horribly wrong, but that
was my very complicated way of saying,
Will somebody please help me. Now, you
just add water and it all comes back again. I
feel grateful. Were still here. I survived.
Indeed, the 90s were kind to Underworld.
They hosted the 18-hour Experimental
Sound Field mixed-media rave for 5,000
people at Glastonbury in 1992 (Michael
Eavis tried to close it down a number of
times; so did the police, laughs Hall).
A key element in Danny Boyles film
Trainspotting, Born Slippy sold more than two million
copies. Two further albums with Emerson, Second
Toughest In The Infants and Beaucoup Fish, confirmed
Underworlds status as luminaries of UK techno.
Emerson, however, left in 2000. We were together over
a decade, says Smith. Relationships changed, the
dynamic changed. Things got tricky. Darren had enough.
It wasnt me that left. I cant speak for him. But obviously
things got too much for him, for whatever reason.

Karland
Rickhave
always
beengentle
hippies,
almost
STEVE
HALL

HE PINNACLE OF the Hyde/Smith/


Emerson iteration of Underworld is their
1994 album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman:
rich fusion of pulsing, electronic rhythms and
mino chord melodies overlaid with Hydes
del rious, stream-of-consciousness
yrics. There were two occasions

ICK SMITH IS sanguine about the albums


Underworld made in the 2000s A Hundred Days Off
(2002), Oblivion With Bells (2007) and Barking (2010).
I most often hate records Ive made within an hour of
them being finished, he says breezily. Its a bit of a
problem for me, as you can imagine. So theres plenty of

UNDERWORLD
material in the past couple of decades that Im not that fond
of, or would reinvent at the drop of a hat. With A Hundred
Days Off, for instance, I lost the plot, spending way too
much time exploring tech, sound-related stuff that was very
interesting but ultimately resulted in not very satisfying
music. But there are some little jewels on those records.
After Barking, Hyde and Smith embarked on a number of
different projects some together, some separate. They
devised the soundtrack for the National Theatres 2011
production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle.
Meanwhile, Hyde made a film and album called The
Outer Edges, a Patrick Keiller-esque travelogue
through the Essex hinterlands the twilight zone
on the edge of the city. He also made two albums
with Brian Eno. Meanwhile, Smith scored the
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Understandably, Smith still talks excitedly about
his experiences working on the Games, guiding
a thousand drummers on the night, talking to
them in their ear pieces as the Industrial
Revolution unfolded
Its remarkable, to make that work, at that
level, live, notes John Warwicker. The pressure
and the number of voices youre listening to
would drive anyone screaming and running
away from that. I have immense admiration for
Ricks ability to make it good. It almost kills him.
Hes an absolute obsessive.
After these marvellous adventures apart, Hyde and
Smith reconvened 18 months ago to begin work on
Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future. On this

Uncut meets Hyde the day after the death of Colin


Vearncombe in a car accident. Best known as Black,
the musician was another founder member of the Tomato
collective. He was the calm voice, says Hyde. He would
listen for a bit and then he would speak very calmly and
clearly: I dont understand why you dont just do this
You needed that a bit of grounding.
Does this make you consider your own legacy?
God, no. I just look at the clock and go, Come on,
weve got a lot to do. Right now, every day feels like
another free gift.
During our 36 years together, Rick and I have
done amazing things, continues Hyde. Having
said that, throughout everything, the astonishing
thing is that Rick stuck with me. Hes a bloodyminded Welshman. Once he gets his mind to
something, theres no shaking him. I think the pair
of us just realised that, whatever happened, going
back to Screen Gemz, we didnt actually have to like
each other. We just had to stay together.

BUYERSGUIDE
TheIndustrial
Revolutionatthe
LondonOlympics
2012Opening
Ceremony,scored
by Rick Smith

occasion, however, there were rules. We would start each


day with something fresh, says Smith. The day would be
an island, a thing in itself. Whatever we made that day was
what it was. Then wed move on.
It felt like my romantic memory of Dubnobass, adds
Hyde. There are tracks on Dubnobass where Rick and
I were in the studio recording together. But most of what
has happened over all the albums since is that Rick and
I maybe only recorded a vocal or a bit of guitar together. And
progressively, less and less. So this was the two of us doing
something that we said wed always do: be in the studio
together, in the moment, improvising.
Smith estimates he and Hyde recorded about 30 or 40
pieces for the album. Lincoln Barrett, who co-produced
Barbara, describes Smith as a film director, who controls
and shapes the artistic aspect of each project. The thing I
learnt from him is that each track should feel like a moment,
that youve captured something. Ricks approach is one of
not letting technology and equipment get in the way of your
artistic process. Try to keep things as simple as possible.
Rick is organised, he sees plans, notes Hyde. Im sure
when he wakes up in the morning he sees the grid, like Tron,
sparkling out in front of him. Me, I wake up and go: Whats
this? Who put that here? This is great! Whats my name?

treatment. Breathless opener Juanita


sets the pace.

DUBNOBASSWITH
MYHEADMAN
JUNIOR BOYS OWN,
1994

Breakthrough singles
9/10
Mmm Skyscraper
I Love You and Cowgirl rub
shoulders with Dark & Long and
Dirty Epic. Sprawling, fluid,
innovative and powerful.

OBLIVION WITH BELLS


JUNIOR BOYS OWN,
2007

Invoking the epic glories


of their 90s heyday
7/10
(Crocodile, Beautiful
Burnout), their seventh reflects more
subdued, ambient leanings, closer to
their soundtrack work.

SUNSHINE

SECOND TOUGHEST
IN THE INFANTS
JUNIOR BOYS OWN,
1996

Same club-heavy punch


(Rowla, Pearls Girl),
but the textures are subtler (Blueski,
Stagger). Reissues included nonalbum single Born Slippy.

8/10

FOX MUSIC,
2008

Soundtrack to Danny
Boyles sci-fi thriller, this
8/10
showcases Underworlds
ambient qualities. Their Frankenstein
OST is also recommended.

EVERYTHING
EVERYTHING
JUNIOR BOYS OWN,
2000

This robust live album


from the Beaucoup Fish
tour also included a companion DVD
given the full Tomato multi-media

8/10

Cillian
Murphyin
Sunshine

FOXSEARCH/EVERETT/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK; DAVID EULITT/KANSAS CITY STAR/MCT

HydeandSmithin
their studio, 2015

BROOKS KRAFT/CORBIS

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

WeshallgatheratTheRiver:
(l-r)ClarenceClemons,
BruceSpringsteen,Gary
TallentandStevenVan
ZandtinUniondale,Long
Island,December31,1980

30 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

THE TIES
THAT STILL
BIND

&

J
o
u

d
h
Interview: Jason Anderson
Photo: Brooks Kraft

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

31

Springsteen with (from


left) Nils Lofgren and
Jake Clemons on The
River Tour 2016

DANNY CLINCH

ECHNICALLY SPEAKING, THERE isnt room


for more than one Bruce Springsteen at the
centre of the stage in a Newark, New Jersey,
hockey arena. But if you can buy the notion
that there could be two, you can see that
what really transpires on this unusually
boisterous Sunday evening is a conversation
that transcends the usual temporal limitations.
First, theres the Bruce you cant see up there, though you can
spy him on the faux-vintage T-shirts at the merch stand. Hes the
stubble-faced firebrand who first wrote most of tonights songs
while struggling to imagine a life for himself as a full-grown man
with adult responsibilities and a richer understanding of the
world. It was the real world he wanted to know about, rather
than the one hed romanticised so vividly ever since he began
knocking around in high-school bands in nearby Freehold, NJ,
and roaming the boardwalks of Asbury Park.
32 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

His quest to reach all these things will transform his


songwriting and make him a bigger star than he could
possibly imagine or desire. As his longtime ally Steven
Van Zandt tells Uncut, This is Bruce at his absolute peak of
being in touch with that mysterious thing nobody really
know what it comes from. Some people just get in touch with
it for a while. Dylan had it for seven albums. The Beatles and
the Stones had these incredible three or four album runs.
Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry the great ones had it. One day,
theyre working hard, working hard, trying to perfect their
craft, working on it song by song. And then if you stay at it
and you get a little bit lucky, you just tap into that river of
energy that allows all these other songs to come tumbling
out. Thats what happened, man.
Then theres the other Springsteen, the strong-jawed
guy in the black boots, dark waistcoat and jeans. A proud
husband and father of three, he looks nowhere near his
official age of 66 thanks to the fighting-fit physique and
enviably full head of hair.
He exudes no lack of confidence or exuberance
throughout the three-hour-plus performance that follows
he even crowd-surfs during Hungry Heart, albeit
carefully enough to avoid straining his back or those
of his carriers. Yet this latterday Springsteen begins the
proceedings in a wistful mood. Delivered after the opening
salvo of Meet Me In The City, his introductory spiel varies

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

On The
River,
I wrote
about the
things that
bond
people to
their lives
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

Washington DC prove that just as surely as those youthful


ambitions were within his reach, Springsteen and the E
Street Band have all the vigour and stamina they need to
honour that achievement in the here and now.
Max Weinberg admits his strategy for these shows is to
forget about pacing himself and go full throttle. You get
your aches and pains, says the drummer, who turns 65 in
April. The next morning, I might look like Nick Nolte in
North Dallas Forty when he gets out of bed, but during the
show Im like a 15-year-old kid Im just going for it.
Of course, given all the toil, trouble and towers of multitrack tapes it took to get here, its a wonder these challenges
only demanded the work of two Bruces and not an army.
It got done by sheer willpower, just like it did in Bruces
entire career, says Van Zandt with a raspy chuckle. Why
should this be any different?

OR A WORK that carries an aura of hard labour and


brow-furrowing pensiveness, The River sure is wild at
times. Thunderous renditions of The Ties That

DONT
JUST PLAY
CHORDS
E Street pianist Roy Bittan on
working with Bowie and Bruce

ALWAYS DID studio work,


even before I joined Bruce.
Working with other artists
was intellectually stimulating and
challenging. To go in with somebody
else and be presented with a different
set of circumstances was a way for me
to stretch. I have an eclectic, diverse
kind of background, anyway. The band
was always my first priority, but it was
important for me to break out and do
whatever I could elsewhere I always
felt like it helped me bring something
fresh back to the band.
Working with David was a
particularly fantastic experience and
I was really lucky to work on Station
To Station and Scary Monsters, two
really great records of his. David
allowed for a lot of freedom, which
is one of the reasons I think he
asked me to come record. He
was looking for people to always
add something to his music and
help develop an idea.
When I recorded with him on
Station To Station, the first
thing he wanted me to
play on was TVC
15. He said to
me, Hey, can
you do like a
Professor
Longhair
thing on
this song?
I was like,
Professor
Longhair? This
Brit is asking me

about Professor Longhair? I was really


taken aback.
The funny thing was that literally
three weeks before that session,
we had been in Houston and Garry
Tallent and I had seen in the paper
that Professor Longhair was playing
in some roadhouse outside of town.
So we went to this place and Longhair
was sitting at an upright piano and
playing in this little club it was
fantastic. So when David asked me
to do that, it was a very fortuitous
moment and very surprising.
But he would often give you some
kind of abstract comment or ask you to
do something strange. On Ashes To
Ashes, he asked me to play something
over that little chord progression in
the beginning that sounds very weird.
Theres like a vibrato on that melody.
He was always looking to do that kind
of thing. Bruce allowed for plenty of
freedom, too. Bruce would play the
song for the band and then let the band
play. Of course, sometimes he would
say, I have this riff I want you to play.
Sometimes I would just come up with
something. I dont think
anybody ever asked me to
come in the studio to read
a chart and just play the
chords. They were always
looking for me to come up
with piano arrangements
that would become integral
to the song.
Losing David is such a sad
thing. We did Rebel
Rebel that one
night [in Chicago
on The River Tour
2016] and then
Bruce did Take
It Easy for
Glenn Frey. I wish
everybody would
stop dying so
we could stop
doing tributes.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

33

JOHN LYNN KIRK/REDFERNS

only slightly
from night to
night on the
classic-albumlive-plus-hits
extravaganza
known as The
River Tour 2016.
The singer
reflects on the
younger selfs
determination to
write his way into
that life he wanted, all while doing right by the bandmates
who came along for the ride.
By the time I got to The River, he says onstage in
Newarks Verizon Center, Id taken notice of the things that
bond people to their lives work, commitments, families,
love. I wanted to imagine and write about those things. I
figured if I could write about them, maybe Id get one step
closer to having them in my own life.
Bruce has always been a humanistic writer, says pianist
Roy Bittan a few days before the show. And as he progressed
through the years, hes taken on different aspects of the
human condition, the things that affect peoples lives and
the decisions that people make that affect other people. Hes
continually expanded his explorations into what happens
to people as their lives move along.
Thirty-seven years have passed since Springsteen
hunkered down in a rented farmhouse on Telegraph Hill
Road in Holmdel, NJ less than 40 miles from here to
write material for his fifth album. He was free and clear
for a few months. The Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour
had wrapped on the first night of 1979 and much of the
E Street Band were busy working with Ian Hunter in
a new studio in New York.
Setting out with his notebook, guitar and cassette
recorder, he had a long mental list of the things he wanted
people to hear in the album he envisioned. I wanted a
record that contained fun, dancing, laughter, jokes, politics,
sex, good comradeship, love, faith, lonely nights and, of
course, tears, he says now.
All seemed like crucial components of the younger
Springsteens desire to connect with the broader
community after years as a self-styled outsider. Riding
through mansions of glory on suicide machines was all
fine and good when youre 25. But the world of grown-up
challenges and compromises was what most interested
the songwriter as he neared 30.
Now, Springsteen wanted to find a way in, no matter how
much work it took and it got done the hard way. Then
again, the hard way was the only way to make a record for
Springsteen and the E Street Band. They always turned into
arduous processes, laments Bittan. Its not like he wrote 12
songs, we recorded 12 songs and we put out a record.
The product of an 18-month marathon of music-making
that yielded many more great songs than the 20 that filled
the albums four sides, The River finally arrived on shelves
in October, 1980. At no point was there a guarantee hed get
where he wanted to go or, for that matter, that anyone
would much care besides the faithful coterie of admirers.
That fanbase had yet to swell in size to the Brooocechanting, stadium-filling hordes of the Born In The USA era.
Yet tonights performance on almost-home turf
Springsteens mother, Adele, and sister Ginny are among
the many relatives here and the Boss laughs as he watches
his mom cut a rug to Ramrod is a powerful affirmation
of just how much he succeeded. Here was and is a record
that felt like real life and like a great rocknroll show, two
things that dont converge nearly as often as they ought to.
Riveting and raucous, the performances that Uncut
witnesses in Newark and earlier that weekend in

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

LYNN GOLDSMITH/AS400 DB/CORBIS;


ED PERLSTEIN/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES

Twohearts:
Springsteen
rehearseswith
SteveVanZandt
inHolmdel,New
Jersey, 1978

Brucealwaysconstructs
hisalbumswithastrong
idea ofasequence
ROY BITTAN
Springsteen,Clarence
ClemonsandRoyBittan
attheWinterland
ArenainSanFrancisco,
December 1978

Bind, Jackson Cage and Out In The


Streets lend serious momentum to the first
hour of the two that the show devotes to its
contents. After those surges of exultation
come more muted album standouts like
Point Blank, a sorrowful portrait of a man
brought low by his lovers drug addiction.
Then comes another 90 minutes of often
inspired choices a charged duet between
Springsteen and wife, Patti Scialfa, on
Tougher Than The Rest in DC, a stirring
Atlantic City in Newark along with set
staples like Dancing In The Dark, Born
To Run and the requisite Rosalita.
The demands of the shows are both
considerable and just part of the job, as
Uncut learns in interviews with the four
E Streeters who were there for the albums
tumultuous creation. Theyre back to
revisit this terrain for the first time since
the only other complete performance of
The River in 2009 at Madison Square
Garden, one of several full-album
performances they played at the tail
end of the Working On A Dream tour.
Everybody loved that, says Bittan
of that night. Of course, Bruce has
always constructed his albums from
start to finish with a very strong idea
of a sequence, as people did in the old
days before you had shuffle!
The expenditure of energy and degree
of finesse at the Newark and Washington
stops are all the more impressive given
that the E Street Band werent expecting
to tour this winter. It came out of the
blue, says Van Zandt, who co-produced
The River with Springsteen and his
manager, Jon Landau. It started off

with him saying were gonna do a Saturday


Night Live appearance and that was it. Then
he called back and said, Maybe well do a
few shows. That was good news, very good
news. Then a few shows turned into a tour.
The only present-day member who played
in the first versions of the E Street Band in
1971, bassist Garry Tallent found out about
those latest plans by accident. He got tipped
off by a booking-agent friend who was
helping set up some dates in support of
Tallents first solo album, a tight collection
of 1950s-style rock and RnB entitled Break
Time. Im in a little bit of shock, he admits.
Like guitarist Nils Lofgren, he had to hastily
reschedule a slate of previously booked
solo dates. For the most part, people
understand, says Tallent. Ive been in
the same band for close to 50 years so they
know my first allegiance is to that.
Nor is there any doubting the allegiance of
the fans, who bought tickets swiftly enough
to sell out the first set of dates within
minutes of going on sale in December. They
fill the time waiting outside in the cold by
trading reports of shows elsewhere on the
tour. The first date in Pittsburgh gets the
thumbs up, though many fans travel plans
were derailed when the first Madison
Square Garden show was postponed after
a blizzard struck the American East Coast.
Asking about lifetime tallies of Bruce
concerts is a useful conversation starter. A
40-timer in a T-shirt for the E Street Bands
2000 reunion tour laments that Springsteen
just doesnt play enough for his 20-year-old
son to be able to rack up a respectable
number. Another fondly recalls an almost
five-hour show at Giants Stadium but

SpringsteenwithVanZandt
andPattiScialfaduringThe
River2016touratChicagos
United Center, January 19, 2016

PUNK,
POLITICS
ANDTHE
RIVER

PattiSmithin
1978,theyear
herbandhad
ahitwith
Springsteens
Because
The Night

How Springsteens fifth album


crossed a cultural divide

RUCE SPRINGSTEEN HAD


been buying up punk singles as
they hit the
streets of New York
since the recording
of Darkness At The
Edge Of Town. By the
time of The River, he
and the E Street
Band had forged
alliances with many
of the acts to break
out of CBGB,
including the Patti
Smith Group (who
scored their sole hit
with the Darkness
outtake Because The
Night in 1978) and the
Ramones (Hungry
Heart was born when
Joey Ramone asked
Springsteen to write them
a song). In early 1980,
Springsteen would often
visit Martin Rev and Alan
Vega of Suicide, who were
recording an album next
door to his gang at the
Power Station. The Boss would
frequently declare his love for Frankie
Teardrop from Suicides debut album
and repeatedly performed a cover of
Dream Baby Dream.
If that influence is not necessarily
front and centre amid the rock n roll,
RnB and folk elements of The River,
the unruly energy is unmistakable in
many of the songs that didnt make the
cut. At least it was to Max Weinbergs
son Jay, a fellow drummer who filled in
for his dad in the E Street Band on the
2009 tour and now plays with Slipknot.
I sent him a box set and he listened
to Held Up Without A Gun, says the
elder Weinberg of one of the highestvelocity outtakes. He said, Dad, you
guys were a punk band. If you listen to
that, we clearly were.
By that time Springsteen had also
formed something of a mutual
admiration society with The Clash. The
arrival of London Calling at the end of
1979 evidently strengthened his belief
in the rightness of releasing a double
album of his own.
The two bands were very
passionate, says Steven Van Zandt.
I dont think being passionate has ever
really been fashionable, know what I
mean? Passion always seemed to be a

ttle bit of an outlier


quality, a freaky sort
of emotion. People
are either afraid or
oo insecure to
commit, or just not
particularly
enthusiastic
about life. You
dont really hear
passion that
often, not
erious
passion.
Van Zandt
ees a kinship in
regards to how
both those
watershed
double albums
sought to
capture the bleak economic and
social realities of their respective
environments. The irony, he notes,
is that The Rivers bitter subtext
about the dashed hopes and vastly
diminished expectations of workingclass Americans may have greater
resonance in the country of 2016 than
in its original context at the dawn of
Reaganite triumphalism.
Thats one reason why punk music
never caught on in America, he says.
The English guys politicised it
immediately, but it never really quite
caught on in America because things
werent quite that bad as they were
in England. Reagan and his Morning
in America thing was about to happen
and everybody was like, Im gonna
be happy now!
The album is more relevant now
because we now seem to have found
ourselves in a permanent depression
economically. Slowly, slowly its
dawning on people that we have now
really devolved into a class structure
that is more similar to Englands history
than ours. We always did have an upper
class and a lower class, of course, but
not to the extent we do now. So now all
those class struggles in England that
The Clash or the Pistols presented
have come to roost here.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

35

GETTY IMAGES

swears hes lost count of the rest Ive been at this for
40 years, he says in a Bruce Willis grumble.
Once inside, the luckiest ticket holders fill whats
affectionately known as the pit Springsteen fans with
floor access have no need for chairs. They bellow the lyrics
and pump their fists with all the expected bravado. Of
course, youd expect nothing less from the younger dudes
whove arrived in full Boss In The USA garb of red bandana,
sunglasses, blue denim vest and black leather jacket. In
Newark, half the crowd seems to know each other. As that
younger Springsteen knew when he set out on this stage in
his journey, good comradeship can take you a long way.
Shorn of the horn sections and backup choirs of the
Wrecking Ball and High Hopes tours, the 10-member
incarnation of the E Street Band includes relative newbies
like saxophonist Jake Clemons 35-year-old nephew of
Clarence, who passed away in 2011 and organist Charles
Giordano, who replaced keyboardist Danny Federici after
he died in 2008. Violinist and guitarist Soozie Tyrell has
been part of the E Street orbit since the early 90s though
her NJ pedigree includes plenty of time spent with
Southside Johnny and singing in an early group with
Scialfa. As for the rest of the 10 players arranged in two rows
in the shows spare presentation no backdrop, only three
modest-sized screens hanging from the rafters; even the
reliably flamboyant Van Zandt is largely dressed in shades
of grey its very much the same band that made The River.
Max Weinbergs no-holds-barred approach certainly
seems like the preferred strategy for the entire ensemble. Yet
its easy to hear how the fires raging here were used to forge
something special, something essential to the mans artistic
longevity. While Born To Run marked the first great
breakthrough five years earlier, The River represents the
period when Springsteen fully became Springsteen in toto.
That is, the one that would weather all the pressures that
came with the success of Born In The USA and subsequently
matures into one of American musics most dependably
thoughtful artists. This is the point where he bids farewell to
the Jersey Shore bohemian of The Wild, The Innocent & The
E Street Shuffle, the wild-hearted tramp of Born To Run and
the terse, tense tough guy of Darkness At The Edge of Town.
But instead of driving further into the badlands, he steers
into the mainstream of American life and culture.
A sign of the more politically engaged sensibility that was
emerging in his work, The River itself was one of many
songs that touch on the hardships of the Carter recession.
It gave Americans a bitter early taste of what Van Zandt
calls the permanent depression that now envelops much
of the heartland. In the documentary included with The
Ties That Bind: The River Collection, Springsteen calls the
song my touchstone for all of that writing that came later,
where you simply step into a characters shoes and try

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
to get the listener to walk in those shoes for a while.
The Newark crowd turns it into the most mournful of the
nights many singalongs. He dedicates it to his sister Ginny,
whose experiences were his inspiration. She was also
there when he debuted it at Madison Square Garden in a
Musicians United For Safe Energy anti-nuke show in
September, 1979. It became her favourite song, but as she
later told Springsteen biographer Peter Ames Carlin, that
first encounter left her feeling completely exposed.
The other key song of the period was Hungry Heart,
originally recorded that June with backup harmonies by Flo
& Eddie of The Turtles. His first Top 10 single in America
and perhaps the biggest reason The River became his first
No 1 record it signalled that he was no longer averse to the
idea of having hits. Much to the relief of the bandmates, who
saw him give away sure things to Patti Smith with Because
The Night and the Pointer Sisters with Fire.
In fact, Hungry Heart nearly went to the Ramones,
Springsteen having written the song after seeing them play
the Fast Lane in Asbury Park in March. That was really
weird, it doesnt sound anything like a Ramones song,
admits Bob Clearmountain, the producer and engineer
whose mix of the song appears on The River (albeit with a
sped-up vocal track). Nevertheless,
those two songs were critical. The
first, a pivotal example of the more
character-based writing that would
become fundamental to his practice;
the other, a harbinger of his impending
era as the worlds biggest rock star.
Van Zandt believes the period marks
a big breakthrough in his friends
writing, partially because he found
his comfort zone within an identifiably
rock template. Its easier to be original
than to compete in an existing genre,
understand? says Van Zandt. People
think, Oh, its such a big deal to be
original. As a songwriter, I can tell you
its not that difficult to be original. Whats difficult is
writing in an existing genre and keeping your identity.
In that period, his writing started to become very
pop/rock-oriented in a really good way, in a
substantial way. All of a sudden, every single thing
sounds like it belongs on the radio and yet it never
lost the identity of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street
Band. That was just a monumental development.
So by all accounts, the troubles with The River
werent a matter of getting great writing out of
Springsteen. The challenge was getting him
to stop writing.

Inside the Power


Station, 1979 (engineer
Neil Dorfsman, second
right): Below: replica
Bossenheimer Jones
notebook, included
in the River boxset

Bruces
writing
started to
become
very pop/
rockoriented in
a really
good way

N THE THRONG of freezing fans lined up outside the


Washington show, Uncut meets a Bruce fan in a red cap
whose decades-long tally of E Street concerts started
with the DC stop for The River tour in 1980. My kids think
Im cool, he says, clearly happy to give them a reason. He
remembers being startled at the immediate impact of
Hungry Heart at that show. It was everywhere on the
radio, he says. The album was barely out but he pointed
the mic to the crowd and let them sing it because they knew
all the words already. That was a far cry from the chillier
reception his Springsteen-loving friends gave to Darkness
On The Edge Of Town a few years before. That record was
great, of course, but it took a few years for us to know that.
With its film-noir-inspired mood of desolation, Darkness
was hardly the album that would help Springsteen regain
momentum lost during a two-year court battle with former
manager, Mike Appel. The albums release in June, 1978
prompted another wave of acclaim. But sales were weaker
than theyd been for Born To Run, despite a dogged touring
policy to counteract a recording ban imposed during the

36 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

STEVEN VAN ZANDT

wsuit. As revealed by Thom Zimnys documentary


r 2010s The Promise: The Darkness At The Edge Of
own Story, that edgy disposition reflected the tough
rcumstances of its creation over many frustrating
months in the Record Plant in New York. Every single day,
it was a fucking struggle, is how Van Zandt puts it now.
Much of the pain resulted from the fundamental conflict
between the sterile recording methodology that was the
standard of the 1970s and the teams efforts to convey the
energy of the performances. Says Tallent, For forever, it
was like, Ah, you gotta see them live you cant go by the
records. That was always the scuttlebutt up until The River.
The other thing weighing on Springsteens mind in early
79 was the changes that he noticed in his compatriots,
who now felt a pull towards the adult world. As Springsteen
explains in the new doc, You gotta understand that the
band at that time was not very grown-up, in the sense that
people were just starting to get married and have their kids.
Springsteens father, Doug, had moved with his mother,
Adele, and younger sister, Pamela, to California back in
1969, leaving the singer feeling further adrift. He wanted
to understand the mysteries of whatever it was that made
for viable relationships and careers. All those things,
in other words, that became the ties that bind people
to their lives. Those are the questions Bruce was asking,
says Weinberg. How does one find that? And more
specifically, how do I find that?

Bob Clearmountain on how


The River found a home at
the Power Station

E OPENED THE
studio in the summer of 77.
I produced a couple of punk
bands with Tony Bongiovi, who was one of the
owners [and the cousin of Jon Bon Jovi]. Then I
did this album for Ian Hunter called Youre
Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, and he
hired Max, Danny and Garry for his band.
They were really impressed with the studio.
Max said, Im gonna tell Bruce about this
place hes gonna start another album and he
should come over here. Sure enough, they
came over a couple of months later.

Theyd tried to play live at the Record Plant


but they ended up doing massive amounts of
overdubs just to sound the way they wanted
they had to artificially make it sound like
band all playing together.
It was always a struggle for
hem getting the sounds they
anted and it was so easy [at the
ower Station]. Not only that, but
ed designed it so you could have
he drums out in the big live room
nd have all these different rooms.
verybody could see everybody
lse so there was always visual
ommunication. It was perfect for
what they wanted to do.
They recorded most of Born In The USA
at the Power Station, too. When I mixed that,
a lot of the mixes were just about balancing
them. It was so easy to mix because it was a
live band playing in the studio so they kinda
balanced each other.
The only part I was involved in with The
River was recording those first two songs
[Roulette and The Ties That Bind] and
doing that first group of mixes. I had to move
on because I had some other projects to do,

so I handed it off to my friend Neil Dorfsman


and he recorded it all.
They spent a couple of months making the
record, then we mixed it. The odd part was
going back and spending another year on it.
They kept to themselves pretty much. They
had Studio A every day for a long time and
that was the biggest room in the Power
Station. They had a pretty big lounge there.
The neighbourhood it was in was still
considered Hells Kitchen. It was getting
better, but it was a little rough. People would
get mugged once in a while. I never did,
which is nice!
It was funny because I was doing a live
record with the Stones there and Jagger
would usually leave at, like, 3am. I figured he
had a driver waiting outside. One night I said
to him, You have a driver, right?
He goes, No, I go up to 9th and grab a cab.
I said, Really? At 3 or 4 in the morning? We
lived right near each other in the Upper West
Side. Id say, How about we leave together?
Ill share a cab with you. I was really worried
about Mick Jagger being out in this rough
neighbourhood at 3am. Didnt seem to bother
him much, though.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

37

JOEL BERNSTEIN; BOBBY BANK/WIREIMAGE

PEOPLE
WOULD GET
MUGGED
ONCE IN A
WHILE!

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

MICHAEL MARKS/MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

TheEStreetBand
inDetroit,October
1980,themonth
TheRiverwas
released

Springsteen found inspiration by listening to Hank


Williams, Johnny Cash and other country artists whose
music had the smalltown feel and adult concerns he wanted
to convey. Even so, his trove of new songs contained a
formidable number of bona-fide rocknroll songs. That
was a happy discovery for the E Streeters as they began
rehearsals at the Telegraph Hill property. Eager to avoid
the agonies of the Darkness process, Springsteen hoped
that by presenting the band with relatively complete
demos, they could learn them fast and make an album
in a far more efficient manner.
Fresh from their time there backing Ian Hunter on Youre
Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, Bittan, Weinberg and
Tallent all had good things to say about the Power Station, a
studio in NYCs Hells Kitchen. They had been working at
the Record Plant, which is a typical office-building studio
low ceilings and extremely dead-sounding, says Bob
Clearmountain. It was a famous studio and Lennon did a
lot of records there, but the Power Station was really a
departure from that type of studio. It was very live. We were

Often
wedrecord
something
andBruce
wouldgo,
Nah,thats
notquite
right
MAX WEINBERG

into getting big sounds. I was into Led Zeppelin so was


going after that kinda thing. They just loved it.
Roulette was the first song they cut and mixed
when sessions began there in March. Written within
days of the meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear
reactor in nearby Pennsylvania, Springsteens song
sharply evokes the panic and terror in the accidents
aftermath. Weinberg was instructed to do his best
Keith Moon; he delivered. In what felt like no time at
all, they had a potential Springsteen classic in the
can. Says Van Zandt, We were like, OK, man, were
off to a good start here!
It never even made it on the record. Many more
songs that were just as good or better would suffer
the same fate. Several also dated back to the
Darkness sessions or tours. A moving vignette
based on his late-night conversations with Doug in
the darkened kitchen of the family home in Freehold,
Independence Day was one of many older songs
that competed for attention with the new material that
poured out of him day after day.
The actual recording process went very quickly, says
Weinberg. Its the writing that took a long time. He would
sit working, working, working to come up with a song he
could stand. Very often he would bring something in, wed
record it and hed be like, Nah, thats not quite right, and
wed go back into the lounge and hed start writing again. In
those days, we were together 24/7 or certainly 24/5 so if
he had an idea, he had a band there to try it out.
Says Bittan, Wed work on songs and then hed come
back a couple of days later and maybe thered be a different
section or different music. He was always striving to find
the best musical foundation for what he was trying to say.
The pianist remembers hearing songs such as Night
Fires and Where The Bands Are and thinking, Put that
out tomorrow and itll be a No 1 hit! But Springsteen was
wary of taking the path of least resistance. Anything that
comes that easy and that spontaneously makes him
uncomfortable, says Bittan. The ones that he really dug

HOW TO BUY BRUCES BOXES


LIVE/
1975-85
1986

Released at
the height of
8/10
Springsteenmania in the mid-80s, this
four-disc compendium was a
blockbuster of the Christmas
shopping season (and a secondhand-store staple not long
thereafter). Fans were right to
grumble over the preponderance
of recent tracks over previously
unreleased live-show staples.
But Because The Night and
Fire still burn brightly in
their first officially sanctioned
appearances, and the five-song
sequence recorded in July 1978 in
Hollywood captures the E Street
Band at its most incendiary.

38 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

TRACKS

THE
PROMISE:
THE
DARKNESS
ONTHEEDGE
OFTOWN
STORY

1998

Springsteens
trove of
unreleased songs
topped 350 by
the time he and
8/10
longtime engineer
Toby Scott started sifting
through three decades worth of
tapes for this four-disc collection
of demos, B-sides, rarities and
others that got lost along the way.
As always, there are notable
omissions (no sign of the fabled
Electric Nebraska), but the
grungiest bootleg staples
benefit greatly from the TLC
Springsteen even enlisted
drummer Vini Lopez to re-record
parts for Thundercrack, a
spirited outtake from The Wild,
The Innocent & The E Street
Shuffle. Confusingly, the
condensed single-disc version
adds three essentials not on the
big box: Trouble River, The
Fever and The Promise.

10/10

2010

This 2010 Grammy winner is like a


lovingly crafted objet dart, albeit
one with an appropriate air of
Springsteen-ian scruffiness.
Three CDs and three DVDs (or
Blu-rays) came nested inside a
facsimile of the coiled notebooks
where Springsteen typically
scribbled his ideas and lyrics.
Though it documents one of the
bands toughest times, the music
collected here burns with a spirit
of vitality and defiance. Thats
equally true of both the huge
assortment of Darkness On The
Edge Of Town outtakes and the
live recording of the full-album
performance at Asbury Parks
Paramount Theatre in 2009.

THETIES
THATBIND:
THERIVER
COLLECTION
2015

9/10

Steve Van Zandts


claim that The River couldve
been a great quadruple album is
dead on the money. Again,
Springsteen risks the ire of
purists by recording new vocals
for several outtakes, but the
results are consistently thrilling,
as is the concert film thats
been newly constituted from
the four-camera shoot at
Tempe in November, 1980.
The thick book of photos and
mementoes adds yet more
value to Springsteens second
must-have archival set of recent
years. So how about that Electric
Nebraska next?

Coverstar:Springsteenon
theboardwalknearthe
EmpressHotelinAsbury
Park,August1979theshot
madethesleeveofthe
Hungry Heart single

Sherry Darling and other songs that possessed the


party-hearty vibe that made the shows so exhilarating.
Even so, figuring out the balance of elements was a
urther set of headaches as spring rolled around and
t came time to cut it down to size. We were all given
pieces of paper and made suggestions as to what the
album should be, says Tallent. I would always go
oward the more pop kind of thing, like Be True.
would always lose out.
By the count of engineer Neil Dorfsman, there were
0 complete songs in the can. Twenty-two appear on the
oxset, plus the two (Cindy and Be True, which had
evolved from the earlier Mary Lou) that made it onto
he single LP, only to be replaced. Nowadays, Van
Zandt is sanguine about the fate of all the greats that
became outtakes. On the one hand, every one of
hose songs is a lost argument, he says. But
ooking back now, theres not a whole lotta songs
d want to replace on The River.
Keeping with Springsteen tradition, the process
ad been laborious, protracted and expensive. At
ne point, CBS boss Walter Yetnikoff dropped by
remind them that the $1 million cost for studio
me was coming out of Springsteens future
yalties, not his companys coffers. But it wasnt
early as torturous as their spell in the Darkness. After
l, they were holed up in a studio where they got the sound
they wanted and with a prolific songwriter in full stride.
You kinda give up and enjoy the ride, Van Zandt
explains. You say, Fuck it this thing is not gonna stop.
Can it be a triple disc? A quadruple disc? I mean, its a
egitimate four-disc album. We wouldve beat George
Harrisons three. Everything sounded great every day.
e couldve been recording that thing forever and just
njoyed it at least until the money ran out.

ITH ITS SIZE, heft and diversity of themes


and approaches, The River had all the
hallmarks of a major work, one that
managed to attain a novelistic richness without easily
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

39

JOEL BERNSTEIN

deep down and really worked at and made sure that


everything was just exactly right, those are the ones
that he prefers to make part of his legacy.
Given his predilections, all agree it was a miracle
that Springsteen opted to keep Hungry Heart
albeit with much lobbying on the part of
everybody, according to Tallent. It made the cut
in fact, it made the cut twice. By late summer,
10 songs were culled from the 24 that had been
recorded. After being mixed by Clearmountain,
they were submitted to Columbia for a single
album to be released under the title of The Ties
That Bind. Instead, Springsteen changed his mind.
We were surprised when we went back in the
studio, says Bittan. For us it was always about,
Well, whatever is happening is happening. But
it is a little unnerving after you work on a record
then you find out, Wait a second, its not
coming out?
As Springsteen says in the documentary, I
needed more time to let in all of the colours
and feelings that I wanted to let in.
More time turned out to mean another
year. Along the way, it became clear that the
single album had to be a double. Bruce stuck to
his guns, says Van Zandt. And Columbia, God
bless em, said OK. In spite of the fact that double
albums were a lot more expensive to produce.
As work continued through the rest of 1979
and deep into 1980, hed have no shortage of
candidates to fill the second LP. We had this pile of
multi-track tapes in the office at the Power Station
that was known as Mount Springsteen, says
Clearmountain. We had to move desks for it.
Tallent remembers someone making the tapes into
a living room. They made a couch and a table and
a chair I think there was even a lamp.
The larger canvas meant that Springsteen could
finally find space for both the more ruminative set
pieces such as Point Blank and the lustier likes of

ANTONIO ROSSI

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

ceding its mysteries. Hearing the songs performed


in their original order and with the dynamism of
the performances at Newark and Washington the
interconnections between the characters, voices and
scenarios become starker. Even the inclusion of Crush On
You which the Boss often names as the one The River
couldve done without makes more sense in context.
Springsteens concept was almost meta. While The
Rivers more sober-minded songs gave you the characters
and their stories in all their fullness, he intended for
listeners to imagine the wilder ones as the music those
same characters wanted to hear when they went out at
night to escape their woes. Van Zandt traces a similar kind
of narrative throughline between the lovestruck doo-wop
serenade I Wanna Marry You and The River. It
couldve been the same couple 10 years later, he says.
You had that whole life span of a relationship happening
within one record.
There were no shortage of newly minted Springsteen
fans ready to imagine their own connections. The River
sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first two months.
The excitement felt by the band and audience alike is
palpable in the footage of the concert in Tempe, Arizona,
on November 9, shot on four cameras for promotional
purposes and finally buffed up into a concert film in
The Ties That Bind box. That caught the band at what
may be the height of its powers, says Bittan. Tallent, who
remembers still having to hitchhike between shows while
Born To Run was high in the charts, sees The River as the
beginning of the bands real success. Hungry Heart
made a huge difference, he says. All of a sudden, we
would see women in the audience instead of all men.
The newfound financial security also freed Springsteen
up to become more engaged with the world around him.
We were having major problems struggling to stay alive
until Hungry Heart hit, says Van Zandt. And bam, we
sold five million albums and sell out arenas for the first
time. Up until then youre kinda making a living, but not
really. You stay focused on the basic survival thing. Then
you start feeling secure enough to look around and look at
the world a little bit and you cant help but start getting
involved with politics.
Onstage at Tempe in November, 1980, there was a first
flicker of that new sensibility when Springsteen described
the presidential election win for Ronald Reagan the night
before as pretty frightening. The final leg of The River
tour in 1981 included a benefit concert for Vietnam
Veterans Of America he wrote Born In The USA the
same year. (Though the new tour coincides with the start
of the 2016 presidential primary season, he keeps his
political opinions to himself this time around, limiting
his onstage endorsements to the local food banks

40 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

fundraising at the shows. Fans make do


with their own Trump jokes.)
As Springsteen made his way through
the new decade, he did so with a newfound
confidence about his place in the broader
community he sought. Not that there was a
reduction in the amount of heavy lifting his
art demanded. As Weinberg quips, Rome
wasnt built in a day and The River wasnt
made in a week-and-a-half. The interesting
thing is that what became the Born In The
USA album, eight of the 12 tracks were
recorded in, like, four days. Then he spent
the next year-and-a-half writing another
70 songs to get four more songs.
Clearmountain was similarly awed by
AstillfromThe
that work ethic. He was always writing,
TiesThatBind
documentary
he says. A few years later when he was
doing Human Touch, I remember being in
the A&M Studios in LA mixing and wed
take a lunch break. Wed be eating in the lounge area and
hed get halfway through a sandwich and then pick up his
guitar and his notebook and start writing. He couldnt
even stop to eat lunch.

PRINGSTEEN DEVOTEES ARE waxing about the


albums that never quite happened, the ones that
can be glimpsed in box sets and bootlegs and the
ones that still lurk on the tapes still in the vault. An
excavation of the Nebraska/Born In The USA era feels
inevitable, though a new Springsteen solo album is
reportedly the next in the release queue. Even more so
than The Promise, The Ties That Bind confirms how
necessary process was for him to get where he wanted
to go, to creating something that felt real to him and to
everyone who heard it. As Bittan says, Theres this
essence of truth and life in all of those songs.
Springsteens conversation with the past has inevitably
prompted his fans to consider their own journeys. The
woman sitting next to me in Washington describes the
towering importance of Springsteens music for her
husband. Hes a proud 50-timer who lets her do the
talking turns out he escaped an Ohio steel town by
signing on with the Coast Guard while still a teen. It was
his only way out, she says. They played All That Heaven
Will Allow for the first dance at their wedding.
Time is on everyones mind when the evenings
rendition of The River wraps up with Wreck On The
Highway the haunting closing track about a man
whos moved to hold his young wife tighter after
witnessing a grisly car accident and imagining the pain
it brings to someone elses home. Springsteen calls it
a recognition of mortality and its a tough one to
acknowledge. That may be why the E Street Band whoops
it up so hard for the remainder of the show. If anything,
the rollicking, house-lights-on finale of Rosalita and a
cover of the Isley Brothers Shout feel a little desperate,
as if any troubling thoughts needed to be banished from
the room. But as Springsteen says onstage at Newark,
Once you enter that adult world, the clock starts
ticking and youve got a limited amount
of time to do your work, to raise your
family, to try and do something good.
So maybe The Rivers most valuable as a
reminder of how precious those moment
can be, whether it does so with a sad
lament for this lands walking wounded
with a heroic effort to make the good times
last as long as they can.

The Ties That Bind: The River Collection


is available now through Sony

THAT
WASABIG
OVERSIGHT...
Inside The Ties That
Bind: five keepers
from the latest batch
of outtakes
MEET ME IN THE CITY:
Recently performed with all
due gusto on Saturday Night
Live, this strident rocker quite
possibly lost out to Out In
The Street as The Rivers
requisite anthem in the nightbelongs-to-us mode. Pretty
glorious in any case.

ROULETTE: That was


the big oversight, says
Springsteen of the mystifying
decision to leave off the first
song recorded for The River
in March, 1979. Kicked off by
Max Weinbergs explosive
intro, the performance
matches the intensity of
the lyrics taut reportage,
inspired by the then-fresh
accident at the Three Mile
Island nuclear reactor.
WHERE THE BANDS
ARE: Heres another rabble
rouser that wouldve attained
singalong status had it made
onto his set lists with any
regularity. To be fair, it was a
favourite on the 1999 tour
after appearing on Tracks.

WHITE LIGHTNING:
With its eerie keyboard line,
Duane Eddy licks and Big Man
vamping in the final moments,
this is a canny condensation
of nearly everything the E
Street Band loves about 50s
rock and RnB.

HELD UP WITHOUT A
GUN: At 77 seconds, it could
be very well be the shortest
song in the entire Springsteen
canon its certainly one of
the punkiest. This exhilarating
blast of noise and fury briefly
re-models Springsteen as the
missing link between Eddie
Cochran and Rocket From
The Crypt.

 
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THE MAKING OF...

Its not a hit song how a melancholy ballad proved recordcompany wisdom wrong, aided by a famously raunchy video
OME BANDS HAVE songs
theyre known for that dont
represent them, says Chris
Isaak. But Wicked Game is
kind of indicative of what I
like to do. I like to sing pretty
ballads, I like moody surf
guitar, I like darkness, but I still try to put a
melody or something pretty in there.
A surprisingly subtle, dreamy and dark
composition for a global hit, this gothic ballad
was ignored on release in 1989, but its inclusion
in David Lynchs Wild At Heart the following
year, and the somewhat steamy second video
starring the singer with model Helena
Christensen, turned the 34-year-old Californian
into an international sensation.
Though the song has a sparse, atmospheric
production, the creation of Wicked Game
took months in the studio, and involved
numerous edits, samplers, synths and
daily liverwurst sandwiches.
When Chris has an idea of how a tune should
go, explains Isaaks long-time engineer Mark
Needham, he will go to the end of the world to
find a solution. Hes not afraid to really dig in
hard and work out what can get the lyrical
content across. Sometimes thats easy and
sometimes it takes a really long time.
Despite his successes in the studio, on stage
and on screen notably in Lynchs Twin Peaks:
Fire Walk With Me and his own sitcom in the early

42 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

2000s Isaak wryly confides


to Uncut that hes just waiting
to be rumbled as a romantic
authority. Its pretty funny to
have these love songs written
by a guy whos never been
married, doesnt have any kids
and who has never even lived
with anybody, he laughs.
Maybe at some point people
will go, What do you know
about love?

KEY PLAYERS
CHRIS ISAAK

probably in 20 minutes, the


whole thing. I wrote it because
there was a very alluring,
really sensuous woman in my
ROWLAND
life at the time, who was bad
SALLEY
news, she was always two
Bass
steps away from being
prosecuted or getting in
FRANK
trouble. She called me and
TOM PINNOCK
MARTIN
said, I wanna come over.
Keyboards
And I thought, Dont see this
CHRIS ISAAK: My first two
girl, dont get in trouble with
albums [1985s Silvertone and
this girl! But I said, Yeah.
1986s Chris Isaak] sold just
MARK
NEEDHAM
So I hung up the phone and I
enough for me not to be
Engineer
went, The world was on fire
dropped. We had enough
and no-one could save me but
success with the first record to
you, and I had the song. By
get to make the second one.
the time she came in, I was in such a good mood
MARK NEEDHAM: It was a different time back
because Id written this song, and all I wanted
then you could spend a year making a record.
to do was play guitar. I was like Listen, listen!
ISAAK: We werent selling millions of records,
ROWLAND SALLEY: Lefty Frizzell had used
so nobody was really on our case. The most
a minor chord as the fifth instead of the more
common thing the label said was, We dont hear
common major in Thats The Way Love Goes.
a single. They said that about Wicked Game
That chord change had always caught my ear,
and [1995 hit] Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing.
and there it was again in Wicked Game. But
NEEDHAM: Wicked Game was a painful
the way Chris presented it the first time it seemed
birth, but a beautiful baby.
like the intro needed developing. In retrospect,
ISAAK: A lot of songs I write could take five
it reminds me of the innocuous pawn that
years, but Wicked Game was one that I wrote

Vocals, guitar,
songwriting

nobody notices at first, but which then wins


the game in the end.
ISAAK: The last line, nobody loves no-one?
Roy Orbison told me, You know, Chris, you
should always have a little bit of hope in every
song. And in this one, I think I went in the other
direction. But I liked the idea of a love song
where its very fatalistic at the end. The whole
song is about surrendering to the inevitable,
that youre gonna get crashed on the rocks
but you go there anyway.
SALLEY: I remember recognising elements
in it that had come from conversations wed
had about music, and other discussions that
happen naturally among people who do a lot
of travelling together.
FRANK MARTIN: Recording [Isaaks third
album] Heart Shaped World took quite a while.
We recorded in a small place called Dave
Wellhausen Recording [in San Francisco].
I remember it well, a real little place.
ISAAK: It was a funky place that used to be
an icehouse. Youd go out the front and they
had a sandwich shop, and I remember the
cheapest one was liverwurst, so I ate so many
liverwurst sandwiches. Theyd be like, You
must like liverwurst! Well, its 15 cents less
than anything else

SALLEY: The basic tracks were done fairly


quickly and essentially became workshops on
which the rest of the sonic content of the song
was constructed. Im talking days for the basic
tracking of a dozen songs, then months for
everything else that went into them.
NEEDHAM: One of our main problems on
Wicked Game was that we wanted a superhypnotic feel, and cutting it live we just werent
getting that. So we ended up getting Kenney [Dale
Johnson] to play all of his drum parts separately,
sampling them, then putting them into an Akai
DD1000 and programming them with his live
parts right off the grid. Same with the bass.
ISAAK: I remember at one point taking the
drums and laying the entire tape down on the
floor, measuring distances to count beats.
SALLEY: What I tried to do on the bass was to
keep it simple and wide open to allow the other
as-yet-unforeseen instruments plenty of room to
hop in any number of directions. The wonderful
stuff that you hear on the final version was the
product of a lot of sleuthing in the studio after
the basic track was laid down.
MARTIN: For me, what sold that song in the
first place was the haunting vocals and the
haunting guitar. The combination of those
was just over-the-top amazing.

NEEDHAM: Chris writes songs that are difficult


to sing. We were doing it live in the control room,
not through headphones. Theres such a wide
dynamic range on it that Chris was having an
easier time keeping pitch on it that way. If you
listen on the verses, whenever Chris sings youll
hear the ambience change, and the drums bleed
back into the microphone it was a cool effect!
ISAAK: You hope a performance comes
naturally you should be telling it like its a
dramatic reading, as well as hitting all the notes.
NEEDHAM: Recording the vocals was probably
a two- or three-week process. We were doing
guitars at the same time. Chris would come in
and sing every evening for a few hours, and wed
try to figure out the approach. So it took a while.
Of course, now Chris can sing it perfectly.
ISAAK: I remember my guitar player at the
time [James Calvin Wilsey] didnt want to have
a tremolo bar on his guitar. I said, Why dont
you put a tremolo bar on?, and he goes, Why,
so I can have it go out of tune?, and I said,
Some people play them and they dont go out
of tune, we could try it because I wanted that
sound, I was singing the lead part, but I wanted
to hear it on guitar.
NEEDHAM: We used a regular-strung acoustic
guitar and a high-strung acoustic guitar for
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

43

PAUL NATKIN/WIREIMAGE

Chris Isaak,
1991: I liked
the idea of
a love song
where its
very fatalistic
at the end

CHRIS

FACT FILE
Written by: Chris Isaak
Performers: Chris Isaak
(guitar, vocals), James Calvin
Wilsey (guitar), Rowland
Salley (bass), Kenney Dale
Johnson (drums), Frank
Martin (keyboards),
Christine Wall and Cynthia
Lloyd (backing vocals)
Produced by: Erik Jacobsen
Recorded at: Dave
Wellhausen Recording,
San Francisco
Highest UK/US chart
position: UK 10; US 6

Chris rhythm part. Then the lead guitar is a


Strat through a 64 Fender Deluxe, nothing fancy.
But then thats going to a fader that was sending
to a delay, and thats coming back through an
Eventide H3000 on a rich chorus that goes out to
a big plate reverb, so theres all these swells going
on. With each note, youll hear it swell, and then
spread out in stereo and off into delay and reverb.
ISAAK: I still have people come up to me and say,
We have bets on what the backing vocals are
singing. This world is only gonna break your
heart, thats what theyre singing. The girls
who sang it were from a local band. One of them,
Cynthia Lloyd, I always liked the quality of her
voice. It didnt sound like a background singer;
it sounded like a real person.
MARTIN: When I came in, my job was to provide
an environment. You have to really listen to hear
my part, but if you took it away the song would
be naked. I used an ethereal sound on a Roland
S-50, something dark and warm, with a body to
it, that you could slide in to fill in the gaps. I might
have played Hammond organ as well, but its so
back [in the mix]. My role was really to provide
ambience, to add to the guitar ambience without
ever getting in the way of it.
ISAAK: I never had meetings with the label I
just figured if they didnt notice me, theyd forget
I was there and I could stay on the label forever.
But I went to them and I said, I want to make
a video for this song, I think it could be a hit.
They said, Chris, its not a hit song, its not a rock

TIMELINE

January 1985: Isaak


releases his debut
album, Silvertone,
named after his backing
group of Rowland

44 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

song. I couldnt
raise 30,000 bucks
on my own. So I
just left it.
NEEDHAM:
It seemed like a
standout to us its
a beautiful song
but it is one of those
ones where it was
difficult to see it
as a smash iconic
hit, because its
a ballad.
QuiffIsaak:
publicityshot ISAAK: A disc
from 1989
jockey called Lee
Chesnut heard it
and thought it was
a great song, so he started playing it on his show
and it went to No 1 in his area. Then another show
heard it and they started playing it, and it went to
No 1 in their area. It started spreading, and the
record company went, Oh, maybe this could be
a hit make a video, heres some money. But
David Lynch was willing to make a video for it
before the record company was willing to pay.
Then the company said they wanted to make a
bigger video, because his was connected to the
movie, and MTV had rules that they wouldnt
play a movie video after the movie had been out a
certain amount of time. MTV always had stupid
rules like if you had a girl on a bed with a guy,
one of them had to have a foot on the floor.
NEEDHAM: David Lynch productions are
obviously dark, and Wild At Heart was the
perfect vehicle for one of Chris songs, because
a lot of his work is pretty moody.
ISAAK: Working with David Lynch and getting
Wicked Game into one of his projects was
fantastic for us, I thought it was a good blend.

Inthevideo
withHelena
Christensen

Davids really smart, hes really nice, hes good


at everything. He can write, he can draw hes
fun to work with. We dont go golfing together or
anything like that, but I love him. If he called me
and said, Chris, Im building a doghouse, Id
go, Ill bring nails! I just like working with him,
whatever he does.
SALLEY: I had heard Wicked Game many
times without the vocal, so it didnt surprise me
when I heard it as an instrumental in Wild At
Heart. Apparently some people were surprised
that it was a lot more than just an instrumental.
ISAAK: In the second video we made, in Hawaii,
people think that behind me is a green screen
of clouds in fast motion, but its actual steam
billowing up off the water. I was standing on a
mantle of six inches of glass, and beneath my feet
was flowing lava. When it hit the ocean it was
boiling up. Every so often a softball-sized ball
of molten lava went up in the air like 200ft, and
everybody would go Watch out! Its amazing
when people say to me, I wont let my kids watch
it, because I know youre really doing it. What
do you mean, you really think were having sex?
I go, No, shes an actress, shes pretending to like
me for the video. They gave me a big fancy hotel
suite for the shoot, and they had another funky
room at another place for Helena it smelt like an
old book. So I said, Give her this nice room, Ill
have the crummy one. Shes going to have makeup to do, I dont have much to do. At three or four
oclock in the morning my girlfriend at the time
calls, and of course Helena Christensen answers.
When I heard the story I thought, This is funny,
Ill be able to explain: Honey, I switched rooms,
but she never believed it. She was like, No, you
were in there with Helena Christensen. And I
was like, I wish! In my dreams.
MARTIN: When we were recording the song,
I didnt realise how powerful it was. It wasnt
until I heard the song mixed that I went, Good
lord, what an incredible song and production.
Each song to me on Heart Shaped World is like
a chapter in a book.
ISAAK: Its funny, in the movies everything is
really over the top and dramatic. You know if
a band in a movie has a hit, they play it in the
movie and everybody stops what theyre doing
and dances. That doesnt really happen in real
life, but with Wicked Game, even before it was
a hit, before it was on radio, people would stop
and go, Oh, whats that, I like that!
MARTIN: Its one of those songs where every
element just came together. Chris life changed
as far as audiences and venues, but he stayed the
same. Thats the beautiful thing about Chris, he
always loved to live by the beach and go surfing
and hang out. A very supportive guy, and a
consummate pro, too.
ISAAK: People do like to hear Wicked Game
live still, its one of the songs they come to hear
usually. We always try to play it, and I always
enjoy it. People ask, Do you get sick of playing
it?, and I go, Are you kidding me? I wish I had
15 more like that! If I had 15 more like that, Id be
Paul McCartney.
Chris Isaaks First Comes The Night is out now

Salley, Kenney Dale


Johnson and James
Calvin Wilsey
June 1989: His third
album, Heart Shaped

World, is released, with


Dont Make Me Dream
About You chosen as
the first single
Summer 1990: David

Lynchs Wild At Heart is


released, featuring an
instrumental Wicked
Game during a scene
on a deserted highway

January 1991: Now an


international star, Isaak
releases Wicked Game,
a compilation of songs
from his first three LPs

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WHITE DENIM

JEANS
GENIUS!
Story: Andy Gill
Photo: Drew Anthony Smith

N THEIR FUNKY little studio/


rehearsal space in a commercial
district in the north-west of Austin,
White Denim are running through
tracks from their forthcoming album,
Stiff. The air bristles with spidery
guitar licks and bulges with muscular
polyrhythms as they hammer the new material
into roadworthy shape.
Every band wants a clubhouse of some sort,
whether its The Band down in the basement of
Big Pink, Traffic jamming on the back porch of
their Berkshire cottage, or Kraftwerk winding
down at Kling Klang after a few hours in the
saddle. Somewhere they can relax, kick back,
and mould half-formed ideas into musical gems.
White Denims current clubhouse is typical in
many respects. There are the shelves of old

46 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

keyboards, and the dozens of guitars, banjos


and electric sitars hanging on the walls; the
beat-up old leather sofa; two enormous speakers
the size of wardrobes; and lots of ancient
analogue recording equipment with massive
bakelite knobs. A lot of this stuff, like those
old broadcast consoles, was found by our tube
guru Jim Vollentine, says singer James Petralli.
The primary console in here was built for
the Munich Olympics its a weird British/
German frankenstein thing, with both EMI
components and Telefunken components,
a unique one-of-a-kind console.
The plethora of old gear speaks of an obsessive
attention to sonic detail; but this band is
essentially about guys playing together,
enmeshed with each others parts, as becomes
evident during the rehearsal. Sometimes, the four

musicians seem to be pursuing their own


individual agendas, which somehow magically
braid into one taut cable of propulsive riffing, in
the manner of the Grateful Dead or the Allman
Brothers Band. Its an extraordinary thing to
witness, this high-wire act of musical juggling,
and its one of the things that makes White Denim
such a thrilling live band.
But theres a constant flow of new ideas and
different options being tried, accepted or
discarded. For the jazzy album closer Thank
You, they experiment with a section that swings
like Miles All Blues, before slipping into a
passage of tricky metrical guitar interplay.
Clearly, some songs are still in a state of flux,
despite having already been recorded. This,
it transpires, was the result of their first time
recording with a big-name producer, Ethan

White Denim in November,


2015: (l-r) Jeff Olson, James
Petralli, Steve Terebecki,
Jonathan Horne

Johns, widely admired for his work with Laura


Marling and Kings Of Leon, and for revitalising
Tom Jones recording career with his recent
trilogy of roots albums.
Weve never been in with a producer, fully,
says Petralli, so we didnt rehearse the band
super-hard. We thought, this guys gonna come
in and be like a bandleader type of producer
just knowing the records hes done, I know hes
had that role in a few of them so I figured, well
not overwork this too much. So we get in and say,
This is kind of what we were thinking, and give
him tons of first impressions, and hed say,
Youre done no more vocals, no more guitars.
Thats it. So in a way, were still learning and
writing the songs now. Weve done the record,
and thats cool, but now were like, What do we
want to do with these songs?

REVIOUSLY, THE BANDS clubhouse


had been drummer Josh Blocks trailer,
where they recorded their 2008 debut,
Workout Holiday, its follow-up, Fits, and 2010s
free download album, Last Day Of Summer,
before shifting operations to a studio overlooking
Lake Travis, 25 miles west of Austin. With second
guitarist Austin Jenkins added to the line-up, the
sound on 2011s D and 2014s Corsicana Lemonade
broadened from the original trios jazz-influenced
garage-rock power-jamming blitz to take in more
mellow moods and modes. All manner of
Americana flavours crept into their style, from
the falsetto soul of Curtis Mayfield to the country
funk of Little Feat. It seemed there was no limit to
the places they could go, musically.
Then everything changed, largely as a result of
Josh Block and Austin Jenkins having chosen to

move back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where


Josh had grown up. Though no great distance by
American standards, 200 miles is one heck of a
commute, and the two halves of White Denim
slowly ripped apart. Josh and Austin were keen to
set up a studio in Dallas and start recording local
talent; and right off the bat, they struck lucky
when Austin discovered a young gospel/soul
singer, Leon Bridges. Having recorded an album,
Coming Home, with Bridges, they were surprised
when it took off, climbing the charts in the UK
and the US. Suddenly, Block and Jenkins faced
new responsibilities, and became the young
singers backing band as he set about meeting
the sudden huge demand for live shows. Initially,
it coincided with a break in White Denims
schedule; but as Coming Home became more
popular, a conflict of divided loyalties arose.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

47

WHITE DENIM

THE LIGHTER
SIDE OF
WHITE DENIM
S EVER WITH White
Denim, Stiff balances
fiery energy and
furrow-browed complexity with
a winning light-heartedness,
reflected in the sleeve design.
Although its their first cover not
created by Petrallis old college
chum Michael Hammond, the
design devised by San Francisco
artist Eugenia Loli continues the
collage aesthetic of previous
albums, with an absurdist,
chucklesome image of spiky
cacti stuffed into the waistband
of a bikini bottom. And theres a
smirking silliness about the song
titles, with five of the nine tracks
boasting brackets most
stupidly with Ha Ha Ha Ha
(Yeah), which suits a song as
infectious as it is dumb.

DREW ANTHONY SMITH

I really just wanted to


drive home the humour aspect,
admits Petralli. Theres no other
reason. We enjoyed deciding
what words to use in the
brackets, and where to put them
in the middle of the title,
maybe? Were always bad about
naming our songs, too. Half the
tunes in our catalogue have
titles, but we dont call them
that; we still refer to them by the
working titles. And the working
title will change as were working
on it, so half of the band will think
its this rather than that, and
there are moments in rehearsal
where well count off and half the
band is playing a different song.
Were not on the same page with
working titles. So I was just kind
of speaking to that.
And it looks really funny, too.
I get a kick out of imagining it on
satellite radio, and as its playing,
this funny title scrolling across
the digital screen.

48 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

White Denim in
their Dallas studio,
January 2016

We went on a break for a couple of months, and


the next thing we knew, says Petralli,we got in
touch and said, Hey, are we gonna get together and
do some demos?
but they were on tour for 18 months, says bassist
Steve Terebecki.
They went out and did the whole thing with Leon,
explains Petralli. And we thought, we have to work,
weve got children to feed!
We just had to get back to work, says Terebecki. We
had no idea how long they were gonna be.
I dont think there was any specific point when
Austin and I left White Denim, says Josh Block. There
wasnt a point of saying that anything was over; it was
more to do with the way things started coming together.
It was more of a life decision than a musical one. Its hard
to describe: things kinda sneak up behind you and
shake you a bit, so you make a call for a period of time.
But I wouldnt have made a decision like that if I
thought theyd be hurt by it: the last thing Id ever want
to do to my friends would be to leave them high and dry.
And Jeff, the new drummer theyve got, is just fantastic.
He certainly is. Both new drummer Jeff Olson and new
guitarist Jonathan Horne display the kind of dizzying,
jazz-seasoned chops that youd expect of White Denim
players. And for Olson, who studied jazz at the local
University Of Texas, its a dream gig. I guess I was
13 when Fits came out, and that and D were two huge
albums for me when I grew up, he says. I was a huge
White Denim fan! So when James asked me if I could
drum on the Bop English tour it was like, holy shit, this
person that I idolise is asking me to play with them! Josh
was one of my favourite drummers, growing up. In any
other band, I would try to play like him; but now its my
job to play like him, I guess. When we play the old tunes,
I try to be as faithful to his parts as possible.
Bop English was the alter-ego for James Petrallis solo

studio side-project. It was like a vacation record, he


says. If guys had the time, they would come in and play.
And when I decided to release it, the labels wanted me to
tour it, so I had to get a band together. Jeff, we met at a
White Denim gig, and Jonathan weve known for a long
time, hes good buddies with Steve. It was just going to
be a temporary thing, but we had such a good rapport
that we just kind of moved them into this project.
Softly spoken, bewhiskered guitarist Jonathan Horne
moved to Austin around the same time as Petralli and
Terebecki, and met them in the local band scene.
I still have a band called Plutonium Farmers, that
Steve and James would come and see, says Horne.
Sometimes theyd be the only folks in the audience!
I had known Steve for ages for at least three years,
I would run into him on his birthday, and end up at his
birthday party. Its meant to be!
Steve and I had similar musical tastes, but we
started talking about playing music together when we
discovered we had mutual friends in the Chicago jazz
scene, like Frank Rosaly and Ingebrigt Hker Flaten
I used to be in a group with them, called The Young
Mothers. But Ive always wanted to play with White
Denim, and I guess it got rolling when I was asked to play
on the Bop English record, then the tour.
The new recruits fit snugly into the White Denim style,
Olson anchoring things with a reliable but infinitely
pliable sense of when to drive and when to swing,
while Horne trades licks with Petralli, making minute
adjustments in emphasis as required, switching
smoothly between vamps and lead figures, his jazz
chops expanding the bands musical grammar in a way
perhaps comparable to Nels Clines input into Wilco. At
one point, Petralli compliments Horne on his use of
finger-vibrato, characterising it as the 1950s way
of getting a tremelo effect. You know, Rickenbacker
actually put them on guitars back in the 1940s, says

Bridges: Such
a sweet guy!

COMING
HOME
WITH LEON
Josh Block on his successful collaboration
with the young gospel/soul singer

L
Horne, with the helpfully informative tone of the tech nerd.
Oh, I knew you would know the exact date! chuckles
Petralli, as they set up for the next run-through.

HE FOLLOWING DAY, Im in Antones Record Shop,


re-purchasing my past on vinyl, when I get a call
from James, suggesting we meet up for lunch at
Steves favourite barbecue joint, Rubys BBQ. By chance, its
just around the corner. I follow my nose, and a short while
later were slavering over bulging trays of ribs and brisket,
while Terebecki bounces his one-year-old daughter, Cookie,
on his knee and tries to construct a pulled-brisket sandwich.
Despite the tribulations of the past year, they both seem
remarkably at ease, exuding the confidence of musicians
who suspect theyve probably just made their best album
so far, one that reins in the stylistic diversity of the last
couple of albums to something closer to the whirlwind
math-rock riffing of Fits, in particular. Its no accident, for
instance, that one track title, Mirrored In Reverse, echoes
Mirrored And Reversed from that album; nor that the
album title should effectively be Fits in reverse.
Yeah, we almost just had one F, Terebecki admits. We
were this close
We spent some time talking about what we should do,
says Petralli. We thought, as a band, whats our favourite
thing that weve done? We always talk about our first couple
of records in this way, looking at what it was that made us
happy about our group, that made us feel like a band. It
was just doing what feels good, basically, and the most
natural thing for us is just rocking, I guess!
But recorded in a different way, says Terebecki.
The first one wasnt anywhere near as hi-fi as this one.
The process was such fun in those days, says Petralli,
wistfully. We had very little pressure, we were just making
records for fun. When we made D, it was our first time in
front of hi-fi recording gear, and I feel it created this reaction
in the group, that we should make records in this certain

The
most
natural
thing for
us is just
rocking

JAMES
PETRALLI

Lunch on the run:


James Petralli
during the making
of his Bop English
album, 2015

EON BRIDGES IS a local kid that we met


at this bar, the Magnolia Motor Lounge in
downtown Fort Worth, says Josh Block.
He picked up a guitar in between somebodys set and
played a bit, and his songs were fantastic. We got
really involved with him. Hes such a sweet guy, we just
didnt want to send him out there all alone! So we stuck
around and he ended up being really successful.
Block and Austin Jenkins had been looking to set up
a studio, using the recording equipment that Josh had
acquired over the years, and Bridges became their
first client. People had wanted to make records with
Leon before, but I dont think they really appealed to
him, says Block. He was also not rich, so he didnt
have $400 a day for a studio! So the stars aligned, and
we produced the kind of record he wanted to make.
Leons obsessed with specific-sounding records,
especially that generation of Southern soul singers
from the early 60s. And sonically, we kind of have a
love affair with that stuff, too. We got all the musicians
together in one room, and just tried to tape actual
performances, the same way that a lot of the stuff he
was really into was done.
The result was Coming Home, a retro-soul album
which allows Bridges vocal affinities to Sam Cooke
and Marv Johnson to shine through in arrangements
that hark back to both Memphis and New Orleans.
Coming Home was an immediate success, and as it
climbed into the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic,
Block and Jenkins found themselves out on the road
as Bridges backing band the latter still serves as his
musical director for months, before the birth of a
new baby forced Block to return to Dallas, where he
resumed work at the new studio. Working with Leon
ignited a passion that I didnt really think Id have, says
Block. I didnt think Id be one of those people that
would move back home and want to re-invest in the
area I grew up in; but man, I get such satisfaction out of
working with local young people from the area I came
from. Theres all kinds of people whore in a place I was
10 years ago and I just want to help them any way I can.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

49

WHITE DENIM

WHITE
DENIM
BUYERS
GUIDE
WHITE
DENIM
WORKOUT
HOLIDAY
8/10

9/10

The dazzling debut


throws down a
garage-rock gauntlet
of furious energy and
ebullient invention,
and establishes their
characteristic picknmix
approach to rock
history including echoes
of Love, the Velvets,
Devo and Beefheart,
for starters.

The barbecue record,


exploring mellower
modes rooted in the
Southern country-boogie
of such as Little Feat,
Barefoot Jerry, the
Allman Brothers and
Steve Miller. 1972
backporch vibes brought
up to date.

FULL TIME
HOBBY, 2007

MICHAEL HAMMETT AND BOBBYWEISS; DREW ANTHONY SMITH

Boxcarkids:White
DeniminApril2011
(l-r)Terebecki,Petralli,
Jenkins and Block

way. Like, personally, I didnt know how


to sing into a U47 mic at all, and hearing
myself that clearly, I thought, Whoah, I
have to change the way Im doing it to fit,
which is not something you should be
thinking about, making a rock record.
Its the same with all the instruments,
adds Terebecki. Theres so much more
clarity with everything. It changed how
we played, for sure.
That led us to the mindset that, We can
do these things, so maybe we should do
them, says Petralli. Im proud of those
records, but I can hear myself thinking in a
way thats different from the raw energy of
the first couple of records. I think we just
wanted to feel like that again.
For all its streamlined sound and
methods, Stiff is stuffed with the kind of
musical references that make it a joy for
sonic encyclopaedists, like the Red Krayola
quote that opens the album, and the
Beatles flavour percolating through
Theres A Brain In My Head.
Yeah, for sure, admits Petralli. Our
records are always kinda tucked with little
nuggets, for people that listen to a lot of
records even down to the guitar sound of
that track. (For which, Terebecki reveals,
their working title was Taxman.)
Were all pretty nerdy when it comes to
things like gear and recording techniques,
Petralli adds, and working with Ethan
amplified that. Wed be wanting to do the
guitar direct, like The Beatles did with
Taxman, and hed turn it into a mono mix,
or super-early stereo, so the drums are
just in the left channel. There were a few
moments when wed struggle with tempos
from section to section, and hed look at us
really seriously, push his glasses down like
this, I will make a record, whether or not
you guys want to right now. Hes really
good, though, and really cool.

The album was done, as Petralli puts it,


the way a pre-1973 record would be made,
before 24-track was introduced.
We recorded live to 16-track tape, on a
console that used to be at A&M when Ethan
started working there in the 80s, on which
he learned how to be a producer. That exact
same console ended up in Echo Mountain
Studio in North Carolina. They also had
eight of the channels his dad Glyn Johns
had put in Ronnie Lanes mobile studio,
stuff that he had used for Whos Next and
Faces stuff. There was a lot of Johns family
history at that studio up in North Carolina.
With Johns egging them on, the band
ended up with an album with one eye
bravely on the future and the other gazing
fondly to the past, typically triggering
echoes from all corners of rocks rich
tapestry. Perhaps the most overstuffed
example of White Denims penchant for
sprinkling music-history nuggets among
their songs is (Im The One) Big Big Fun,
whose hook Diddy-wah-diddy, da-dooron-ron is built from an odd alliance of
Spector and Beefheart catchphrases.
Somehow it works, partly because theyre
both meaningless phrases.
Yes, and Big Fun itself is a Miles Davis
reference, too, adds Petralli. I suppose
there are so many references in that song:
Im the one, Im the one is like Seventh
Son from the first Sly record, before he had
The Family Stone. And for the live version
of it, were going to stick these triplets in
there referencing Viola Lee Blues, the
last song on the first Dead record they
do this cool, washy triplet feel, its really
confusing, but then a snare-drum kicks it
back into the thing. Well see how many
Deadheads call us on that!
White Denim release Stiff on March 25 via
Downtown/Sony Red

WHITE
DENIM
FITS
10/10

FULL TIME
HOBBY, 2009

The quintessential WD:


a storm of polyrhythmic,
punk-infused power-trio
workouts fizzing with
nervous energy and
bristling with echoes of
Hendrix, Zappa, Doors,
Beach Boys, Bacharach
and Meat Puppets.
Just amazing.

8/10

WHITE
DENIM
THE LAST
DAY OF
SUMMER

DOWNTOWN, 2010

The final blast from


Josh Blocks trailer
studio, equal parts
lysergic country-rock,
West Coast pop and
surprisingly delicate
jazz instrumentals.
Niiice! And free
to download.

DOWNTOWN, 2013

BOP
ENGLISH
CONSTANT
BOP
8/10

BLOOD AND
BISCUITS, 2015

James Petrallis alter-ego


makes his entrance, with
yet another eclectic
ransacking of music
influences, in which
fun ideas spiral off at
tangents from stupidly
infectious songs.

LEON
BRIDGES
COMING
HOME
9/10
COLUMBIA, 2015

The young Texan retrosoulman fell among


friends when he hooked
up with WDs Josh Block
and Austin Jenkins,
who outfitted him with
Southern soul settings
as snugly stylish and
period-specific as the
high-waisted strides he
wears on the cover.

WHITE
DENIM
STIFF

WHITE
DENIM
D
9/10

DOWNTOWN,
2011

This is like a cross


between the Grateful
Dead and the Magic
Band: spiky trickster
rhythms, sleek
country-rock harmonies
and a side order of cool
Afro-Cuban jazz flute.

50 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

WHITE
DENIM
CORSICANA
LEMONADE

9/10

DOWNTOWN,
2016

A return to the fiery


cauldron of Fits for the
new-look WD, stuffed
with sprung-steel riffs,
quicksilver solos and
scudding swamp boogie.
Plus a couple of cool R&B
interludes from James
Petrallis inner soul man.

      


      
   
   
  
     
  
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ALBUM BY ALBUM

The prolific producer reflects


on his steep learning curve
F YOU WANT to analyse great bands,
says Kramer, recalling his work with
the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led
Zeppelin and Traffic, you always
come to the conclusion that they have
these wonderful elements that are
often polar opposites. And yet somehow it works.
As an engineer and producer, he has spent 55 years
marshalling these elements into some of the finest LPs
in rock history, from Young Americans and Beggars
Banquet to the Woodstock soundtrack, and even Derek
& Clives 76 debut. I was underneath the board,
recalls Kramer of the latter, crying with laughter, cos
it was just so bloody funny! His work with Jimi Hendrix on all three of his
original studio albums remains his crowning glory, though. I always
had the tape running, he explains. Because something would happen
in a second and youd go, Shit! I should have had that! TOM PINNOCK

Kramer on Hendrix: We
understoodeachother

JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE


ARE YOU EXPERIENCED

JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE


AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE

TRAFFIC
TRAFFIC

TRACK, 1967

TRACK, 1967

ISLAND/UNITED ARTISTS, 1968

Kramer heads to
Olympic Studios with
the Experience and
Chas Chandler to
speedily record the
guitarists debut
I first met Jimi around
January 1967 at Olympic in
London. There were a couple of tracks he had done
at De Lane Lea, but they werent completed so we
finished what hed done before and then cut the
rest of the LP. Why Olympic? My impression was
that Jimi was thrilled with the sounds I was
getting there, thank God! Working with an artist
of that stature, youre always trying to be one step
ahead and trying to interpret what theyre hearing
in their heads. That has always been my challenge
and job in life. I think having achieved that level
of confidence and success with him, in the sense
that he understood me and I understood him, and
he loved what I did, we hit it off immediately. Chas
was very happy there, too. He said an amazing
thing to us in his lovely Newcastle accent: The
rules are, there are no rules. It opened up the
floodgates for us in terms of experimentation. We
all felt this was a wonderful thing wed all fallen
into, this amazing music that Jimi had created. It
was always a challenge and always funny. When
I look back on those days, I think, Oh God, I was
so lucky, I was in the right place at the right time.
Some of the techniques I used were from working
with a fantastic engineer at Pye in 63, Bob Auger.
We went out to record symphony orchestras with
three mics, and some of that stuck in my brain and
evolved into the distance-micing technique in the
rocknroll world. It worked very well.

More experimentation
ensued on Hendrixs
second album, with
copious effects and
bouncing for Kramer
to master
Ive always thought of
Hendrixs first album as
being fairly primitive its definitely got a lot of
hair on it. Certainly by the second album we
wanted to expand our technological expertise.
Well, what do we do now with Jimi? Lets go more
stereo Yeah man, lets do that! So obviously
the drums were done in stereo and I would start
expanding more on the type of stereo right from
the beginning, and plan it more with the sounds
that Jimi was creating. Then I heard things in my
head and I was thinking, Jeez, maybe I could do
this I didnt revolutionise engineering. I was
part of the whole English recording movement that
had to adapt, because we didnt have eight-track
like the Americans did and we were very jealous
of what they were doing. The Beatles, fortunately,
had some very brilliant engineers who managed
to synch up two four-track machines, but we didnt
quite have that, so we improvised. The way we
did it was the bounce: we would take a stereo mix
of the four tracks that we had recorded and record
them on another machine in stereo and then fill
up those two tracks. Then you have another fourtrack master and take that and mix that in stereo
back to the first machine. The bottom line here
is that you had to be really right on with your
mixing, because if you made one mistake you
would haveto go allthe way back to thebeginning,
which was a pain in the arse.

Steve Winwood and cos


expansive second album,
recorded by Kramer and
producer Jimmy Miller
Of course, Steve Winwood
was a genius, he had a
fabulous voice and was a
great musician. All those
accolades absolutely apply: however, if it were not
for Jimmy Miller, Traffic would never have sounded
like it finally did, nor would it have been as exciting
as it was, because Jimmy added so much in terms
of his production techniques, his ability to get into
the heart and soul of the band and how they wrote
and how they created. He was, I think, the greatest
producer of that era. Traffic were very fortunate,
they had this country place [Aston Tirrold,
Berkshire], where theyd do a lot of pre-production
and work on the material, so by the time they
came into the studio, it was pretty well sorted out.
Musicians in those days didnt bugger around too
much, except if you were the Stones, whod use the
studio as a rehearsal space and then record. But
Traffic were pretty damn tight; it was just a
question of Jimmy Miller pulling an amazing
performance out of their arses, which he did every
night. In Dear Mr Fantasy the double-time
section at the end weve got the whole thing
down and its sounding cool. But all of a sudden,
Jimmy disappears and then jumps up on the stage
in the studio, grabs a pair of maracas and when the
double-time comes in, hes just kicking it. The band
look up, startled to see Jimmy there, and just get
into this very exciting jam. He realised it needed a
big kick in the butt and thats what he did. Jimmy
was a drummer, an entertainer he grew up in Las

52 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

BRIAN PETERSEN, KING COLLECTION/PHOTOSHOT/GETTY IMAGES

The Rolling Stones in


1968: They wouldnt
show up til midnight,
if you were lucky!

THE

CLASSIC

THE ROLLING STONES


BEGGARS BANQUET DECCA, 1968
Kramer and Miller
team up again for
the Stones back-tobasics classic
The best records the
Stones ever made were
with Jimmy Miller. Beggars
Banquet was going back to
their roots, which is what Jimmy was so good at
doing. He understood where they got their blues
influence from and he wanted to extract that raw,
basic, rocking Stones and boy, did he do that!
I started with the Stones in 1967 as an assistant
engineer working on Between The Buttons, the
Flowers album, Their Satanic Majesties Request.
I managed to play percussion, I think, on there.
While we were making Beggars Banquet, wed
book a session for 7pm and most of them wouldnt
show up til midnight if you were lucky. And then
theyd go til 5 or 6am, and then thered be another
session coming in the studio at eight or nine and so
theyd all have to bugger off! Theyd usually get a
track done in that time. Even if Brian Jones showed
up, hed probably do a solo and collapse, the poor
bloke. He was a genius, though. The beginning of
Street Fighting Man? My recollection is that
Jimmy Miller brought in a Wollensak a cassette
machine with one mic built in stuck it on the
floor, pressed Record and the band just made a
circle around it. And that was the basic track. Now,
of course, Keith says it was his idea and his tape
machine, but I dont quite remember it that way.

JIMI HENDRIX
EXPERIENCE
ELECTRIC LADYLAND
TRACK, 1968

Relocated to New York City, Hendrix and


Kramer construct the guitarists masterpiece
I left England to go to America to continue
working with Jimi in 1968. And all of sudden
Im jumping from four-track to 12-track and
holy crap! It was amazing! Jimis concept for
Electric Ladyland was to try to involve friends
and musicians who he trusted. But he had a
unique way of testing it out in advance. Jimi
would book the session for a seven or eight
oclock start, and he wouldnt show up til
midnight, but he had a plan. New York City is on
a grid, so imagine youre going up 8th Avenue

to 44th Street. Eighth was where the Record


Plant was, and two blocks away north up
on 46th Street was a club called The Scene.
Jimi would be there at nine oclock and jam
until midnight, sussing out who the cool
musicians were. On one particular night we
had everything set up ready for him. He was
up at The Scene jamming, and fortunately
Steve Winwood showed up, with [Jefferson
Airplanes] Jack Casady on bass and a few
other stragglers, and Jimi says, Oi! You
come with me, just follow me down to the
studio. You can imagine the line of people
walking down 8th Avenue Jimi leading
the pack with his hat and his feather and
his guitar and everything, walking into
the Record Plant. And we were ready to go
within literally five or ten minutes of
checking the sounds: one rehearsal, one
take, dang! There it is! Voodoo Chile! That
is how rocknroll should be recorded. None of
this bollocks, you know, one track at a time in
your basement, and using samples fuck all
that. Its nonsense. Obviously, there are times
when you have a song like 1983 (A Merman
I Should Turn To Be) that needs that type of
attention to detail when youre layering it, but
with Jimi there was always a plan. He always
had something figured out, and he always
carried with him a big yellow legal pad, and
would write down the structure of the song;
what went where, who played what. So he had
it in his head, he knew exactly what he wanted
to do it was just a question of me trying to be
on top of it and interpreting what he wanted
and just going with the flow.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

53

TRINITY MIRROR / MIRRORPIX / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Vegas a comedian, a great musician. He just had


an innate instinct, and thats what a great producer
does. I wanted to model myself after him when I
eventually became a producer three years later.

EDDIE KRAMER
LED ZEPPELIN
II ATLANTIC, 1969
Recorded on the road,
Kramer engineers the
Zeps pioneering second
My relationship with
Jimmy Page and John
Paul Jones goes back to
Olympic in 67 where they
were session musicians,
and I recorded them. Certainly John Paul Jones
and I were good friends. I remember he called me
when hed just finished the first record and he
said, Come over to the flat and listen to this. So
I went over and I listened and I went, Bloody hell!
Whats that? Its the new band, Led Zeppelin.
I said, Christ almighty! Thats a stupid fucking
name! Why would you want to call a band that?
Boy, was I ever wrong. Anyway, it was genius
when I heard it. Then they came over to the States
in 69, I got a call from their office asking if I could
help finish the recording for Led Zeppelin II. We
cut some more tracks, I overdubbed a whole load
of stuff onto the other tracks and we mixed the
whole record at A&R Studios in New York City over
a weekend. Led Zeppelin II was recorded in about
5,000 studios Not literally, but it seems as if it
was, you know. There was stuff done on the road,
Vancouver, Los Angeles, etc, and I had to put all
that together to make it sound like it was coming
from a good source. So that was part of the
challenge. The use of panning and reverb was
something I loved to do. Certainly I did a lot of it
with Jimi Hendrix and then, of course, carried it
on with Mr Page he and I always got on very
well. It was a delight working with him because he
was so precise. He knew exactly what he wanted.

VARIOUS ARTISTS
WOODSTOCK: MUSIC
FROM THE ORIGINAL
SOUNDTRACK AND MORE

MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

ATLANTIC, 1970

Over a sleepless three


days, Kramer records
monumental sets from
Hendrix, The Band,
CSNY and more
We had to have vitamin B
injections in the bum,
absolutely, thats the only
thing that kept us going! It was three days and
three nights of drugs and pills around you
obviously I was not into drugs, never have been
but there had to be a couple of sane, sober people
there, recording and filming it. It was one of those
magical historical moments that people have
been trying to repeat with various degrees of
success. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime
experience, but Im not so sure Id want to do it
again. The recording gear came from the Fillmore
East. I had one piece of the trailer truck backstage,
which had been set up as a control room with just
a 12-channel console, two tape machines, one
of them was on an orange crate. It was pretty
primitive, I had no communication with the stage,
it was just all done by hand signals. But we got it
done. You cant even begin to imagine being
onstage when youre looking out at half a million
people you go, Holy shit. I remember standing
on the stage, and Bill Graham says to me, You
know if all these people decide to riot were
fucked It all ended well, though, no rioting.
Jimi started at nine oclock on the Monday

54 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

RecordingDavid
BowiefortheFame
sessions in 1975

morning. Half the people had left, there was


a sea of mud there, but Jimis performance was
inspirational, just phenomenal, one of the great
performances of his career. When it got time for
The Star-Spangled Banner, it just was searing
and mindblowing.

fast. Bowie was brilliant about his choice of vocal


takes, which ones to use.

JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE


FREEDOM: ATLANTA
POP FESTIVAL
SONY, 2015

DAVID BOWIE
YOUNG AMERICANS
EMI, 1975

With John Lennon in


attendance, Kramer
mans Bowies sessions
for Fame and other
cuts destined for his
plastic soul album
I hadnt seen John since Id
done two tracks for The
Beatles, All You Need Is Love and Baby Youre
A Rich Man. It was great to see him again. He
came in to play rhythm guitar for Bowie God, he
was good, he was like a bloody metronome, didnt
need a click track. Once that was down, the whole
track was locked in. We did Fame, and I think
we did a B-side, too, Across The Universe. It was
fascinating to see how he interacted as just a
session guy, not being John Lennon, but just a
friend of Davids who happened to play really
good guitar. The story is Carlos Alomar was
jamming the riff that became Fame and Bowie
walked in and said, Oi, I want that, and that
started the process. Bowie had a very clear idea
about what he wanted to do I remember we
adjusted the tape machine with the speed on
each one of those passes [at the end of Fame],
but its very clever. Those guys were all bloody

A rediscovered live set


from 1970 is the latest
posthumous Hendrix
release, masterfully
restored by Kramer
Did I do a lot to the
recordings? You might say
that. It was a lot of work.
I played every bloody part again! [laughs] No, you
can never fix any of Hendrixs stuff, its brilliant.
It was a long process. Were very proud of all of the
restorations that we get our hands on. It inevitably
takes a long time because Im very detailed and
I examine it from every aspect. For me, the whole
restoration thing is akin to an archaeological dig,
in the sense that you go in with a little brush and
scrape away the dirt and try to find the gems that
lie beneath. This was Jimi at the height of his
career there were many highs of his career, of
course. Certainly, though, I think the last iteration
of the Experience [Hendrix with drummer Mitch
Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox] was a very, very
fine band indeed, and this is a nice performance.
A 5.1 system really makes a hell of a difference to
this, because you find yourself actually in the
middle of the audience.
The Jimi Hendrix Experiences Freedom: Atlanta
Pop Festival is out now on Sony

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PAUL KOSSOFF

TonsOf Sobs:
Theriseandfall of
Paul Kossof.

Story: Tom Pinnock | Photograph: Graham Lowe

56 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Stacksofvibrato:Paul
KossofflivewithFreeat
theRedcarJazz Club,
circa 1969

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

57

Kossoff live with


Free, circa 1972

NATURAL TALENT

SPANISH
STEPS
Simon Kossoff
on Pauls passion
for the guitar
AUL GOT
interested in
guitar very young,
I think he was 10. And then he
had no interest in anything
else, although he loved to
draw and was quite a good
graphic artist. But it was the
guitar that got hold of Paul
and rock music, rather
than classical, but my father
insisted that he have formal
lessons. So we found him a
teacher called Miss Monroe,
who lived in Golders Green,
and he had classical lessons
for years. I think Pauls talent
was almost a divine gift,
really, when I look back on
when I saw him play. It just
came to him. So much so that
when Miss Monroe would
take him off to a recital, he
would play Spanish guitar
well. But even she didnt
realise that he wasnt learning
any of the written music she
was trying to teach him; he
was learning it by imitation.
I think thats a fair indication
of Pauls ability, and even she
didnt spot it for ages. He
wasnt reading the music,
he was just following her
hands. Presumably his
vibrato came from these
classical beginnings.

IAN DICKSON/REDFERNS, JOHN DRYSDALE/KEYSTONE FEATURES/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

58 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

T WEST LONDONS Basing Street Studios in


late 1972, Free gathered friends and industry
figures together to watch them perform songs
from their forthcoming album, Heartbreaker,
and showcase their new lineup. Many
observers believed 1973 was the year when
these blues-rock pioneers would leave cult
success behind to join the ranks of Led Zeppelin and The Who. The
reality, however, was less promising. It transpired that new keyboardist
John Rabbit Bundrick had been drafted in to help out Paul Kossoff, the
brilliant guitarist now so reliant on drugs that his pristine playing had
become ragged and erratic. Some of the parts on Heartbreaker had
been replayed by another guitarist, Snuffy Walden. The cracks were
beginning to show live, too. During a break in their performance at
Basing Street, Bundrick heard Steve Winwood comment, mystified, on
the state of Kossoffs vibrato, which had now devolved from a smooth,
fast tremolo to something slower and more alien. It just used to sing,
recalls Bundrick, and then when Koss started losing it, his vibrato
started sounding off-base.

WITHIN THE YEAR, Free


had split for good. Meanwhile,
Kossoff whose lead lines still sparkle over songs such as
Wishing Well, Oh I Wept and All Right Now died on
March 19, 1976, aged 25, his talent cut short in a plane toilet
somewhere over the continental United States.
Free reformed to see Koss smile again, says drummer
Simon Kirke. But he was in worse shape than when we
had split six months prior.
There were no rehab clinics to my knowledge at that
time, explains vocalist Paul Rodgers, and Paul was out
on his own. It remains a terrible tragedy that we lost him so
young. Im always going to miss him.

the others were like cardboard cut-outs next to him.


Producer Mike Vernon was similarly impressed when he
saw Black Cat Bones at a later gig in Battersea, and set up
Kirke and Kossoff with a recording session with New
Orleans blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree. It was very
good, recalls Vernon of the session at Bond Streets CBS
Studios on April 22, 1968. I think Jack himself was quite
taken with Pauls playing. That mans gone crazy! he
shouted during Jukebox Jump.
Just a week after the sessions, Kossoff and Kirke left Black
Cat Bones to form a new group with Rodgers and a former
member of John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, Andy Fraser.
I first saw Paul Kossoff when he was
working at Selmers Music Store, Rodgers
David Kossoff
reads Journey
Y THE TIME that Paul
ells Uncut. There he was with his custom
Into Space as son
Kossoff was a lion-maned,
flared Levis and handmade boots. He
Paul looks on,
January 12, 1955
precocious 13-year-old,
was sitting on an amp riffing on a guitar,
according to his brother Simon, all he
and he sounded good. We were definitely
wanted to do was play the blues. Hed
on the same wavelength musically,
taken up the guitar aged 10, attending
espite our different backgrounds
Spanish guitar lessons [see panel,
growing up. We were aware of many
left] at the behest of his father, the
of the same records Albert Kings Born
actor David Kossoff, and was soon
Under A Bad Sign, BB Kings Live At The
playing in the blues clubs of northRegal When we first played together
west London. Kossoff had been
at the Fickle Pickle in Finsbury Park
brought up in a middle-class,
e gelled instantly.
creative family, but he began to rebel
Koss played his ass off, laughs Kirke,
after his passion for music took hold.
remembering the jam. It was plain to see
Uninterested academically, Paul was
that he and Paul Rodgers both had a great
soon taken out of the private King
empathy for each others playing. Music
Alfred School in Hampstead The
was their common bond.
school just turned their back on him,
Frees rise was swift. Islands Chris
says Simon Kossoff and enrolled in
Blackwell was tipped off, and he, Muff
the local state school, Whitefield, in
Winwood and Johnny Glover head of the
Barnet. Soon after, he started taking pills.
labels management company went down
PAUL
RODGERS
The first place he was ever introduced to it
to Studio 51 near Leicester Square to watch the
was a blues club in Golders Green when he was
group rehearse. They were full-on, says Glover.
about 14, says Simon. He was very quickly into
Paul Rodgers couldnt have been more than 3ft from
uppers and downers.
my face, with the mic stand twirling round, the whole
Armed with a striking vibrato developed from his days
shebang. They went for it, completely. It was incredibly
playing nylon-stringed guitar, a gift for yearning lead lines,
aggressive. They thought they were the best band in the
and a deep knowledge of the blues, the well-mannered,
world, and wanted everybody else to think the same thing.
polite Kossoff was soon making waves with his own group,
Within months of signing to Island, Frees live show
Black Cat Bones. I first saw Paul at The Nags Head in
characterised by Rodgers gritty vocals and Kossoffs fluid
Battersea, recalls Simon Kirke. I was intrigued by the
guitar work was captured on their 1969 debut, Tons Of
bands name. Straightaway I was knocked out by this
Sobs. Produced by Guy Stevens at Londons Morgan Studios
diminutive guy and his playing. It was so passionate,
in two days, and featuring a thrilling version of Albert

WHEN
PAUL AND
I FIRST
PLAYED
TOGETHER,
WE GELLED
INSTANTLY

Kings The Hunter


alongside Rodgers
originals including
Walk In My Shadow,
Tons Of Sobs secured
Free tours with The Who
and Joe Cocker. One
early fan was promoter
Geoff Docherty, who
put on the group at
Sunderlands 800-capacity
Bay Hotel for 35 in January, 1969.
Free were a revelation, Docherty
recalls. They were young, and bursting
with energy and talent. But there werent
many people there. However, when I got
to the dressing room, there were loads of
people waiting outside wanting to meet
them. So I booked them again, and
suddenly the place was packed.
By the summer of 1969, Free were
supporting Blind Faith in America and
as Glover remembers the number of fans
devoted to Kossoff was swelling all the
time. He had that vibrato style that was
unique to him I dont think anybody
before or since has been able to get that
effect he had. On the Blind Faith tour, Eric Clapton sat with
him on several occasions just to get Paul to play that to him,
so he could see how he did it.
Frees second album, a self-titled effort produced by
Blackwell and released in October 1969, was more varied
than their debut particularly, the acoustic Mourning Sad
Morning featured Kossoff channelling the madrigal
moods of John Renbourn. The following year was pivotal
for Free. In May, All Right Now became an international
hit, followed by their third album, Fire And Water, in June.
But December 1970s low-key Highway failed to repeat the
success of its predecessor. After incendiary gigs in Tokyo
and Australia in May 1971, Fraser told Glover that the group
would be cancelling their American tour and splitting
immediately. The tension between Fraser and Rodgers
what the singer today calls a huge difference of opinion
in the musical direction of the band between myself and
Andy had prematurely ended Free.
We split because we were overworked, Kirke
counters. Tour, album, tour, album. We did a lot of gigs
from 68 through 1970 I called it the flying W tour, not
one straight line in the whole schedule. All we needed
was a few months off, but Island never listened. So Paul
Rodgers and Andy decided, Fuck it, were gonna break
up. It broke mine and Koss hearts.

Flare play: Free at


the Royal Albert
Hall, London,
February 11, 1972

Free in 72: (l-r)


Andy Fraser (rear),
Paul Rodgers,
Simon Kirke and
Paul Kossoff

NOBODY
BEFORE OR
SINCE HAS
BEEN ABLE
TO GET HIS
VIBRATO
EFFECT
JOHNNY
GLOVER

Though Glover contends that the arguments between


Rodgers and Fraser were the primary reason for the split, he
agrees that the result was the same. For Paul Kossoff and
Simon Kirke it was the biggest blow of their lives, he says,
because that band was their whole life. It was soon after
that, Paul started taking pills, because he had literally
nothing to do. Simon Kossoff and Rabbit Bundrick could
also clearly see the pain the split had caused the guitarist.
Free was his whole life, his brother explains. Paul was
just lost, without a structure. What does a rock guitarist do,
if theres no rock guitar?
Paul was happy in Free and he didnt want anything
to change, adds Bundrick. The only thing he wanted
in his life was that band.
In his home near Portobello Road, Kossoff
indulged extensively in pills, notably Mandrax,
and reportedly dabbled with heroin, despite having
a fear of needles. To his former bandmates, it was
a surprise. He was not a fit guy at the best of times,
but these drugs really knocked him about, adds
Kirke. The plain truth was he became a drug addict,
and his addiction went untreated properly until
the day he died.
ITH FREE DEFUNCT, Kossoff and Kirke
soon teamed up with Tetsu Yamauchi, a
bassist theyd met in Japan, and Rabbit
Bundrick, to form Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit.
Their self-titled album, released in early 1972,
featured some bold, experimental playing from Kossoff,
now putting his guitar through a Leslie speaker. But Kirke
suggests the lack of a strong vocalist left the quartet well
and truly fucked. Within six months, Kossoff got what
he wanted, the return of Free; but things didnt exactly
go to plan. Although Andy and I put our differences
aside to try to get Paul back on his feet, says Rodgers,
those same issues remained unresolved. After 1972s
Free At Last, Fraser left the band for good, and the
remaining trio drafted in Yamauchi and Bundrick to
bolster Kossoffs shaky performances.
Paul Rodgers was adamant he didnt want Koss in
the band if he wasnt together, explains Johnny Glover,
so Koss got himself together. But there was huge
pressure, and the problem he had was friends and fans
all knew he liked pills, so theyd just give him them by

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

59

ALAMY

MICHAEL PUTLAND/GETTY IMAGES)

PAUL KOSSOFF

HE
DAMN
NEAR
CRIED
Simon Kirke on
Paul Kossoffs
favourite
musicians
OSS LOVED
Clapton,
BB King,
Freddie King and Peter
Green. Chicagos
Terry Kath made a big
impression on him,
especially his playing on
the first album, [1969s]
The Chicago Transport
Authority. He also turned
me onto John Renbourn
and Bert Jansch. But
Hendrix completely
bowled him over when
he arrived on the scene.
Jimis chord work
mesmerised Koss. Wed
listen to his albums and
try to slow them down
and work out stuff.
Hendrixs sound became
a lightning rod for Koss
he wanted to get that
sound Jimi got from
going through a Leslie
speaker. He actually got
one it weighed a ton,
and the poor roadies had
to carry it around. He
loved Hendrix. The first
time he heard The Wind
Cries Mary he damn
near cried me too. He
was a bit of a blues snob
actually, but we all loved
The Beatles, and Paul
Rodgers turned us on to
Otis Redding, so Koss
became a Steve
Cropper fan.
Free used to have
listening nights at
Andy Frasers house
in Roehampton.
Every Tuesday
night, we would
each bring a couple
of albums around
and play them
while we sat on the
bed or sprawled
on the floor.
Those nights were
as good as any
rehearsal better
in some ways.

DICK BARNATT/REDFERNS

60 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

the handful. If someone gave him 20 Mandies, he would


take the whole lot in one go.
Geoff Docherty had Free back to perform at the Newcastle
Mayfair in September 1972, but Kossoff collapsed during the
soundcheck and the gig was cancelled. He was rushed to
hospital unconscious, remembers Docherty. His face was
ghostly white. He looked as though he was on his last legs.
But within a couple of months he was back with Free.
The guitarist was no longer able to operate as he had done
in his prime, though, and as Free recorded their final album,
Heartbreaker, in the closing months of 1972, they were forced
to draft in American guitarist Snuffy Walden to assist.
Kossoffs playing remained immediately recognisable,
however, at its most biting on the driving opener.
I wrote Wishing Well as a fun tune to play live,
but unconsciously it may have been about
people I knew, says Rodgers. He admits that
some of Come Together In The Morning,
Heartbreakers second track, refers to
Kossoffs plight, too There was a time,
its in the past/I thought our love was born
to last/But now you say you are torn in two/
Thats what my love has done for you, he
Once up north, Docherty kept Kossoff in
sings over a funereal soul groove.
JOHNNY
his flat, feeding him on boiled fish, greens
To promote the album the credits of which
GLOVER
and fresh orange juice, and limiting access to
cruelly listed Kossoff as a guest musician the
his prescription drugs. I was like a semi-tyrant,
group were forced to leave the unreliable guitarist at
Docherty says, but he started getting better.
home, and take Osibisas Wendell Richardson along instead.
After a few months of recovery, Kossoff told Docherty that
On their return, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke called time
he wanted to start a new band, so the promoter fixed him up
on the band, and formed Bad Company. We split for the
with some musicians, including vocalist Terry Slesser, and
final time because we reformed for the wrong reasons,
sorted them some rehearsal time at a Sunderland bowling
says Kirke. We were all so fucking ignorant back then.
alley. Docherty hoped that hed get to manage the group, but
After the shock of being replaced for Frees final tour,
Kossoff was soon back in London, where Johnny Glover
Kossoff managed to record his only solo album, 1973s
secured him a deal with Atlantic. Back in a place where
Back Street Crawler. Featuring his Free bandmates and Yes
dealers and fans knew where to find him, Kossoff plunged
drummer Alan White, the record opened with the side-long
straight back into addiction. So in an attempt to keep him
Tuesday Morning, which showcased a noisier, dirtier
straight, Glover took the guitarist off to play with his friend
Kossoff. In contrast, Time Away, a collaboration with John
John Martyn, a trip immortalised on Live At Leeds, recorded
Martyn, was a spacey, atmospheric piece. As close to jazz as
on February 13, 1975, at Leeds University. Kossoffs vices
blues, it showed a future path for the guitarists music;
were now back in full force, however.
though one he never got to follow.
After the Nottingham show we drove back and stopped at
N 1974, FREES early supporter Geoff Docherty was in
Watford Gap services, recalls Glover, and he disappeared
London, and decided to call on his old friend. The cleanfor two days. He went to hospital and talked them into giving
living promoter was shocked by what he encountered
him some pills. He did it all the time. At Olympic Studios
at Kossoffs house. He was unconscious, just lying there,
when we were finishing Back Street Crawler, he went to the
recalls Docherty. I said to [Kossoffs girlfriend] Sandy:
toilet, jumped out of the window, got in his car completely
Whats wrong? She said, Oh Geoff, hes been taking drugs.
off his trolley, and crashed into five or six vehicles driving
While I was there, a drug dealer knocked on the door, and
home. Eventually, he dumped his car and walked.
Sandy shook Paul rigorously. He crawled on all fours, just like
Kossoffs new band also christened Back Street Crawler
a cat or a dog, pulled out a chequebook, crawled to the front
soon ventured out on tour. Simon Kossoff, who had been
door, got some drugs and swallowed them all. Back into
blown away by Free at Croydons Fairfield Hall a few years
unconsciousness. So I rang his dad and said, Let me take
earlier, caught them at Glasgow Apollo a couple of months
him up to Sunderland and Ill get him fit.
before the release of their debut, The Band Plays On: It was
painful. He couldnt play, he was
just standing around on the stage.
The audience were shouting Koss,
Back Street Crawler
then they went quiet when they
in the studio, 1975:
realised the state he was in.
Terry Slesser

IF
SOMEONE
GAVE HIM
20 MANDYS,
HED TAKE
THE LOT IN
ONE GO

second left,
Kossoff far right

N SEPTEMBER 1975, a month


before the release of the bands
debut LP, Kossoff became ill
with a stomach ulcer and, while in
hospital, his heart stopped. Though
the medical team managed to get it
beating again, he was in a coma for
24 hours and suffered from a blood
clot in his legs. Some close to Kossoff
hoped these events might be the
impetus he needed to turn his life
around. Simon Kossoffs wife, Annie,

MICHAEL PUTLAND/GETTY IMAGES

STRING KINGS

PAUL KOSSOFF

STPAULONCD

FRE E
ASSOCIATION

grainy on Ride A Pony and Kossoff, his


playing still fluid and clean, beginning his
experiments with the Leslie speaker.

FREE

Kossoffs finest albums

HEARTBREAKER

FREE
ISLAND, 1970

Frees low-slung third


propelled the quartet
into the big time, thanks to the lead
single, All Right Now. The finest tracks,
though, are the slower, more menacing
cuts, especially the melancholy Oh I
Wept, taking inspiration from Motown,
and the tightly coiled, bluesier Mr Big,
featuring some powerhouse soloing
from Kossoff.

9/10

With Back
Street Crawler,
Cornwall, 1975

FREE

ISLAND, 1973

Free were falling apart by


this point, and yet their
7/10
final album was strong
Wishing Well and Heartbreaker are
two of Rodgers most propulsive tracks,
while Koss distorted lead lines are now
stinging and downright evil, far from the
quicksilver reveries of Frees early years.

PAUL KOSSOFF
BACKSTREET
CRAWLER
ISLAND, 1973

Kossoffs only solo album,


self-produced after Frees
final break-up, features some of the
guitarists heaviest, most psychedelic
playing, especially on the 17-minute
opener, Tuesday Morning. The elegiac,
Leslie-assisted Molten Gold featured
the original Free lineup, a final testament
to the groups rare chemistry.

7/10

remembers spending Christmas 1975 with the family,


HIGHWAY
ISLAND, 1970
and noticing a positive change in Paul. He had this
Though it sold
determination to start another life. He was very reflective
disappointingly at the
about the past and the future, and I felt optimistic. I thought,
8/10
time, Frees fourth album
Hes really turning a corner.
remains a more relaxed and pastoral
Soon after Christmas, Back Street Crawler, now featuring
delight, with Rodgers voice sublimely
Bundrick, headed to Los Angeles to play and record their
second album, 2nd Street. Sessions were disrupted, however,
when Kossoff attacked Johnny Glover in a hotel room.
Its entirely possible that he still pined for
I told him off for getting out of his trolley, remembers
Kossoff with
Free, suggests Johnny Glover, discussing
Glover. He came flying across the room at me with this
Terry Slesser,
Kossoffs drive to oblivion. With the best will
whiskey bottle. Im bigger than him, so I stopped him
circa 75
n the world, Back Street Crawler just wasnt
and broke his little finger in doing so.
he same as Free. They were lovely players,
Once Kossoffs finger had healed, Back Street Crawler
ut Terry Slesser wasnt Paul Rodgers.
continued their tour, climaxing with four nights in early
If Free never wouldve broken up, Kossoff
March 1976 at Hollywoods Starwood club. There, the
robably wouldnt have got sick, agrees Rabbit
groups run coincided with Bad Companys shows at
Bundrick. I got the feeling that he was terribly
the larger Forum. Koss came to see me in my hotel,
unhappy. Once Kossoff knew Free was done
says Simon Kirke. He was a bit out of it, quite sarcastic
and finished, I think that he lost all hope of
and unpleasant. Bad Company were a huge band then:
ever getting that happiness back. He was a little
we were living the dream. And here was Koss who
angel, spending his time on Earth and doing his
desperately missed Paul Rodgers with his band,
ing until it was his time to leave this Earth.
barely making ends meet. We went down to see them
Thats all he lived for.
two nights in a row. The second night Paul came and
Simon Kossoff believes that his brothers amiable
sang, and Koss face just lit up. He adored Paul.
ersonality just didnt provide him with the armour
We played a lot of things that night, says Rodgers,
needed in such a pressured industry. I dont think
some Free, some Bad Company, some blues. And
Paul had that street-fighting quality, which was,
Koss was fantastic.
you could say, to his credit, because he was
Neither Kirke nor Rodgers ever saw Kossoff again.
universally liked, he made friends easily, he
After the groups Starwood shows, Crawler bassist
was never judgmental but that kind of mild
Terry Wilson remembers entering Kossoffs Sunset
ersonality can be subject to terrible pressures, and
Marquis hotel room to find him with a good-looking
hen I think you resort to drugs. Everyone tried to
blonde girl who they called Dale, and a guy sitting
elp, but nobody won in the end. I think Paul may
there with Koss. There were drugs out on the coffee
ell have got beyond it if he could have, one way
table I remember seeing pills, more than one type,
or another, stayed alive for a year or two more.
probably Valium, and some kind of brown powder, probably
Paul Rodgers, the musical partner closest to Kossoffs
heroin. I had it out with the girl about her bringing the drugs
heart, is especially candid when asked about how the
in. She slapped me pretty hard and told me that we didnt
guitarist matches up to the myriad other players hes worked
understand Koss, and that really pissed me off.
with over the decades. Well, Mick Ralphs comes close,
A few days later, on March 19, the group took a red-eye
he says, Pete Bullick from Deborah Bonhams band is a
flight to New York, during which Kossoff swallowed some
mighty fine player, and Howard Leese from my solo band,
pills the same ones, Wilson and Glover believe, given to
too. But really, no-one can ever replace Paul.
him by Dale. On landing in New York, a flight attendant
unlocked the toilet cubicle door and found the guitarists
Simon Kirke is working on a solo album with Chicago band
body. The coroner listed the cause of death as cerebral and
The Empty Pockets, with a release expected in late spring;
pulmonary edema, though Simon Kossoff wonders in
Geoff Dochertys latest book, Three Minutes Of Magic,
hindsight whether his brother should have been flying at all,
RABBIT
BUNDRICK
concerning the pitfalls of managing bands, is out now; Mike
considering that hed suffered from a heart attack and blood
Vernon & The Mighty Combo tour the UK in June 2016
clot only six months previously.

ONCE
HE KNEW
FREE WAS
FINISHED,
I THINK HE
LOST ALL
HOPE

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

61

RICHARD E. AARON/REDFERNS

FIREAND
WATER



    

   

  
      




  
   


 
   
   

OUR SCORING SYSTEM:

New albums
T HIS MON T H: IG GY POP | V IOL EN T F EM M ES | M WA R D & MOR E

ANGELINA CASTILLO

10 Masterpiece 9 Essential 8 Excellent


7 Very good 6 Good but uneven
4-5 Mediocre 1-3 Poor

MARGO PRICE
Midwest Farmers Daughter
THIRD MAN RECORDS

Third Mans first country signing releases a worldly


and unflinching debut. By Laura Snapes
IN 2015, COUNTRY music
had an identity crisis.
Stetson or snapback?
Authentic or real? Were breakthrough
artists like Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton
and Kacey Musgraves even country, or
Americana? What was Americana, actually?
An industry consultant called female artists
the unwanted tomatoes of country radios
salad; were you pro-lettuce or pro-tomato? If
the latter, did you prefer bad girls, good girls
or burnouts? And at its most basic, what did
the critical distinction between good country

8/10
TRACKLIST
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Hands Of Time
About To Find Out
Tennessee Song
Since You Put Me Down
Four Years Of Chances
This Town Gets Around
How The Mighty Have Fallen
Weekender
Hurtin (On The Bottle)
Worlds Greatest Loser

and bad country really boil down to? Art,


or a nastier comment on class?
Margo Price is the first country artist to sign
to Jack Whites Third Man Records, a starry
indie precedent that will definitely stoke this
tedious debate. Margo is here to save us all
from the Starbucking of America, the label
declared, provocatively. Based in Nashville,
Third Man is credited with restoring the citys
reputation for rock, although Whites country
credentials are well enshrined: he was
inducted into the citys Walk Of Fame last
summer alongside former collaborator
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

63

New Albums
Loretta Lynn, and his love of female
country voices was obvious from 2001,
when The White Stripes covered Dolly
Partons Jolene. What does it mean that
this relative newcomer, situated 1.5 miles from
the citys famed Music Row, is now brewing
the local malt?
Prices excellent debut wastes absolutely
no energy trying to address her place in the
country-music ecosystem, and gets right to
telling us who she is, rather than who she aint
(a dispiriting trope in the genres identity
wars). The title of Midwest Farmers Daughter
evokes Lynns proud Coal Miners Daughter
appellation, and is a plainspoken nod to
Prices own origins. Its backed up by opener
Hands Of Time, a capsule retelling of her
hardscrabble life, which sounds almost
improbably like the subject of a country song.
She was born in smalltown Illinois; her dad
lost the family farm when she was two, and
went to work in a prison. Price quit college for
Nashville, got exploited by sleazy managers,
fell in with the wrong crowd and went to jail
more than once. She worked humdrum jobs
and eventually met her husband, who was
already married. They formed the roots band
Buffalo Clover, made a few albums, toured
Britain and the US; they would routinely sell
their possessions and try to leave town on tour
(or otherwise), only to wind up back there
again. Once settled, they had twins, but the
firstborn died of a rare heart defect, and Price
self-medicated to cope.
Hands Of Time is immensely graceful and
stoic: Price recounts her story over tentative
stand-up bass and subtle, shifting beds of
strings and Fender Rhodes. Then the chorus
hits, and she lets rip like her former bandmate
Sturgill Simpson on The Promise, pushing
her high, twangy voice to its fullest cinematic
potential as she faces the future. Cause all I
wanna do is make my own path/Cause I know
what I am, I know what I have/I wanna buy
back the farm/And bring my mama home some
wine/And turn back the clock on the cruel
hands of time. Her fortitude sets the tone for

Price:Iwannabe
able to give back

Midwest, which seldom wallows. There are a


couple of ballads, and a few rounds of heavy
sorrow-drowning, but their vibe is mostly,
Well, your loss. Instead, Price establishes
that she knows the dignity a little money
can bring, but very quickly makes clear that

she cherishes her self-worth too much to trade


it for success.
Theres some country music insider baseball
here, though its not bitter; more pitying of an
exploitative industrys silly games and how
they pale next to everything else Price has

THE
ROAD TO
MIDWEST
FARMERS
DAUGHTER
Four more powerful
country and folk
albums that convey
the dark side of life

64 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

LORETTA LYNN
Writes Em
And Sings Em

KAREN DALTON
In My Own Time

DECCA, 1970

With the exception of the


Peggy Sue Wells co-write
You Wanna Give Me A Lit,
Writes Em... was Lynns rst
originally written album,
compiling hits from the
60s with new material.
It established Lynns
utterly uncompromising
perspective on matters
of domestic life.

GEORGE JONES
I Am What I Am

KACEY MUSGRAVES
Pageant Material

PARAMOUNT, 1971

EPIC, 1980

MERCURY, 2015

Where Prices band is raring


to go, Daltons is laid-back
and easy, but Daltons knack
for expressing loss and
the desire to run suuses
Midwest Farmers Daughter,
and although the singers
voices may sound nothing
alike, they have a shared
knack for imbuing their
words with aecting longing
and disappointment.

Jones commercial and


critical return to form
foregrounded his soulful
voice, in powerful, reaching
performances that conveyed
the dark side of life, as he
sang on Ive Aged 20 Years
In Five: drinking, cheating,
loss. Although he had no
tracks on this album, Prices
great-uncle, Bobby Fischer,
regularly wrote for Jones.

Musgraves is one of the most


successful artists to break
out of country in recent
years, but her pro-weed, progay, anti-establishment lyrics
havent always garnered
the necessary support
to succeed within her
industry. Pageant Material
is Musgraves manifesto: do
what you want, as long as its
not causing anyone else pain.

ANGELINA CASTILLO

New Albums
been through. You wouldnt know class if it bit
you in the ass, she sings at some bigwig on
About To Find Out, an intoxicating slice of
woozy honky-tonk. She ups the pace and
adopts Dolly-style flair to twist the knife on
This Town Gets Around, which exposes
Nashvilles corrupt power structures: Its not
who you know, but its who you blow thatll put
you in the show/And if thats not the case, I hear
you pay em, she sings, upping the ante of
Kacey Musgraves Good Old Boys Club.
But I dont come easy and Im flat broke/
So I guess its me that gets the joke.
Price is a comic lyricist who does a fine
flipped country clich: Maybe Id be smarter
if I played dumb, she sings on This Town,
and on the yawping, boozy romp Hurtin
(On The Bottle), she observes, Youre never
too old to learn to crawl. But most of the
infectious fun of Midwest comes from the
festive arrangements and Prices almighty
delivery. She and her sizeable band recorded
at Memphis Sun Studios, and Midwest brings
verve to tradition,
inhabiting ballads
SLEEVE
NOTES
and gritty
ragers with
Produced by:
striking, supple
Matt Ross-Spang,
Alex Munoz
arrangements.
Recorded at: Sun
Tennessee Song
Studio, Memphis, TN
has the woozy
Mixed at: Ardent
outlaw feel of
Studio, Memphis, TN
recent Hiss Golden
Personnel: Margo
Messenger, while
Price (vocals, acoustic
guitar, harmonies,
the flinching How
percussion), Jamie
The Mighty Have
Davis (electric
Fallen sounds like
guitar), Eleonore
the work of a regal
Denig (violin), Micah
60s girl group.
Hulscher (piano,
Weekender is the
organ, Rhodes),
Jeremy Ivey (bass,
least distinctive
harmonica), Larissa
song musically, but
Maestro (cello),
Prices account of
Alex Munoz (dobro,
mayhem at the
mandolin), Dylan
county jail is
Napier (drums,
spirited and
percussion), Luke
Schneider (pedal
unapologetic.
steel), Kristin
Her voice is
Weber (fiddle,
the records real
violin, harmonies)
star: controlled,
infectious, and rich
with enviable natural twang. On Four Years
Of Chances, Stevie Wonder-indebted Rhodes
underpins Prices shift from cool suspicion
towards an ex who didnt recognise what he
had, to belting admonishment. She wavers
at the start of acoustic closer Worlds Greatest
Loser, but quickly finds herself as a
tremulous, lonesome balladeer in the
style of Karen Dalton. Whichever mode, she
absolutely sells every word, whether sung
from the top of the world, the bottom of the
bottle or the hard-won, half-full spot in
between. Midwest Farmers Daughter is never
preachy, and outside of its obvious villains, is
uninterested in questions of good or bad. Just
like the genre she inhabits, Price is too resilient
and timeless to get bogged down in that stuff.
As she sings over the sleepy walking bass of
Since You Put Me Down, Even if I fall from
grace, Im gonna land back on the ground.

Margo Price explains her musical calling and her


real-life struggles: Ive been to jail more than once

HEN DID MUSIC become your


calling? I got my first guitar after
middle-school graduation and
started to pick out songs. Around
18, 19, I started to practise every day, writing my
own stuff. As I was about to enrol for my third year
of college, I dropped out and went to Nashville.
Why the move? I came down for Spring Break. I
loved it so much, I began looking for an apartment.
I started going to the writers rounds and the clubs.
I had maybe planned on going back to school, but
after I got here, I realised that I was getting a good
education through real-life experiences.
But soon people started screwing you over...
I was trying to figure out how to make money. I met
a gentleman who seemed well-connected. He had
a huge studio, so I went there. He put something in
my drink and it became really frightening. I was
really lucky I got out without getting hurt.
Didnt you move to Colorado to live in a tent?
Yes. My husband and I had been floundering,
working lots of dead-end jobs. We felt defeated by
Nashville, so we sold everything to try another
city. He knew of this abandoned road you could
camp on for free. We would busk until we had
enough money for food and wine, then start again
the next day. You tire of showering at the YMCA,
so we came back to Nashville. It was a good
adventure. We stayed about
a month and a half.

means. The time came that I knew I had to get


them out, about three years ago.
Youve described it as a concept album about
your life. I decided to write very honestly, and
when I looked at all of the songs, I realised how
personal they were. It was really strange to realise
that I had done that by accident. Im glad I did.
Youve said before that its hard for you to be
that vulnerable. What drew it out? Theres
other people whove had the same struggles:
I know other musicians who can relate to being
pushed around; and regarding losing my son, and
how it affected me, I wanna be able to give back.
Which albums did that for you? I love Willie
Nelsons Phases And Stages, theres so many songs
from The Band and Dylan that have gotten me
through hard times, like Tears Of Rage. I love
Karen Daltons In My Own Time, and Skip James.
What took you to Memphis to record? I had
recorded at so many Nashville studios, and I think
it goes back to me feeling like I didnt belong here.
We happened to be travelling through Memphis
on our way to Texas and stopped to do Suns
guided tour. I really felt the magic.
Do you still feel like an outcast in Nashville?
Not really. I feel like people respect what Im doing.
Thats a nice feeling. Ive
found my home: Third Man
is just a little ways off Music
Row not a great part of
town, but it feels right.

I was running
with the wrong
people, acting a
little bit recklessly

Is that what Tennessee


Song is about? Less that
time, but we left a couple of
other times as well. Its this
long-running joke that no
matter what we do, if we try
to leave, we end up back in
Nashville. I think theres a
love-hate thing that goes along with it, especially
when youre failing in the music business.

You sing about a jail spell in Weekender.


What did you do? Ive been to jail more than once,
but when I wrote that song it was just a weekend
I wrote it there. To protect my grandmother, Ill say
no comment. I was running with the wrong
people late at night, acting a little bit recklessly.
How long did it take to make this album?
For several years I had wanted to make a country
record. I had the songs, but not the financial

Youve said they didnt


want you to change
anything about the LP.
Did other labels want to
mould you? One label
wanted to add more rock and soul. Id just done
that with a band; it wasnt working for me. A
couple of large labels had me in. Id meet these
women who seemed totally perplexed by what
I was doing: Youre not a hillbilly, but you play
real country music? Third Man was happy that
it was recorded at Sun, that it was analogue.
You have your Grand Ol Opry debut soon.
What does it mean to you? Ive dreamed about it
my whole life. Im so glad my grandmothers are
here to witness it. They both instilled a huge love
of country music in me. INTERVIEW: LAURA SNAPES

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

65

New Albums
(l-r) Matt Helders,
Dean Fertita, Iggy
Pop and Josh Homme

IGGY POP
Post Pop Depression
CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL

American seizure: Josh Homme oversees King Stooges


death trip. By Jim Wirth
HAVING JUST ABOUT held it
in for 38 minutes, Iggy Pops
personal dam bursts in the
closing moments of his 17th solo album, the
68-year-old unleashing an extraordinary tirade
at the climax of escape fantasy Paraguay.
You take your motherfucking laptop, and just
shove it into your goddamn foul mouth, and down
your shit-heel gizzard, you fucking phony two-faced,
three-timing piece of turd, he rasps breathlessly.
And I hope you shit it out with all the words in it, and I
hope the security services read those words, and pick
you up and flay you for all your evil and poisonous
intentions, because IM SICK and its YOUR FAULT,
and Im gonna go heal myself now. Amid the

8/10

TRACKLIST
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Break Into Your Heart


Gardenia
American Valhalla
In The Lobby
Sunday
Vulture
German Days
Chocolate Drops
Paraguay

66 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

unredeemed darkness of Post Pop Depression, that


final phrase may represent the sole note of hope.
Recorded in secret with Queens Of The Stone Ages
Josh Homme and Dean Fertita as well as Arctic
Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, the mission may
have been to recapture the wildness of Pops Berlinera albums with David Bowie The Idiot and Lust
For Life. However, Hommes superbly Bowie-esque
backing vocals do little to rekindle the selfpossessed optimism of those records. Post Pop
Depression is unremittingly bleak; a meditation on
mortality and regret, which unlike the standard
post-Time Out Of Mind outing by a Saga holidayaged pop star offers no soft-focus reverb, and
precious little comfort either side of the grave.

New Albums

Dean Fertita
You recorded in
secrecy in Joshua
Tree, California;
why was that?
Nobody needed
to know what was
happening and if we didnt like what
we were doing, we knew we could
just drive out into the middle of the
desert and bury it and no-one would
ever know it existed.

DAVID JAMES SWANSON

The lyrics are very dark. Did that


surprise you? If you had looked at
this on paper and seen the guys who
were on the record, you would have
expected it to sound a certain way,
but at this stage of [Iggys] career
we felt we could make a record with
him that relied more on the content
being heavy. We think he is maybe
one of the most underrated lyricists

in American music he is so good at


expressing something that people
can understand simply, but there is
a lot of subtext there.
Iggys rant at the end of
Paraguay is incredibly powerful.
How did it come about?
That was absolutely spur of the
moment. We had done three or four
versions of that song and each one
was completely dierent. He had no
lyrics in front of him. I was ecstatic
that we had a moment like that.
Theres been some talk within our
little group that this could be his last
record, but you dont know for sure.
My hope is that he is super-inspired
by what we did and makes 10 more
records, but if it is the last thing he
does, I am just proud to have been in
the room when he said what he said.
And if he stops, he stops on a high.

COMING UP
THIS MONTH...
p68
p70
p71
p73
p75
p76
p77
p80
p83

VIOLENT FEMMES
GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS
BULLION
BRIAN FALLON
LORETTA LYNN
BOB MOULD
RICHMOND FONTAINE
THE CORAL
M WARD

INTERVIEW: JIM WIRTH

trudging weekend-wards on Sunday.


A crushing, low-slung guitar riff on In
The Lobby, meanwhile, accompanies a
depiction of a streetwalking cheetah going
joylessly through the motions. And its all
about the edge, and its all about the dancing
kids, and its all about the sex, and its all
about done, Pop smoulders, concluding
bitterly. I follow my shadow tonight. Berlin
memoir German Days, for its part, recalls
not the excitement of exploring the citys
ripped backside but a world of crappy clip
joints. Glittering champagne
on ice, Pop ululates over a
SLEEVE
lugubrious beer-hall squelch.
NOTES
Garish, overpriced.
Produced by:
The past and the present
Josh Homme
are sullied, but the future is
Recorded at: Rancho
grimmer still. Ennio Morricone
De La Luna, Pink Duck
death bells clang over the sullen
Studios, both California
Chocolate Drops and the
Personnel include:
hateful Vulture, as Pop
Iggy Pop (vocals), Josh
attempts to shoo away those
Homme (vocals, guitar,
who would one day pick at his
bass,
keys,
percussion),
bones, while the raw, powerful
Talking to The New York Times,
Matt
Helders
(drums,
American Valhalla confronts
Pop was eager to put some distance
backing vocals),
the afterlife with a shudder over
between himself and his albums
Dean Fertita
a glowering bass thud: Is
dour side. I had a kind of character
(guitar,
keyboards)
anybody in there? And can
in mind, he noted. It was sort of a
I bring a friend?
cross between myself and a military
The characters depicted here,
veteran. However, the anger, the
however, might be too far gone for friendship,
exhaustion here, sounds very much his own.
and wobbly BBC Radiophonic keyboards on
Ive shot my gun, Ive used my knife, he mutters
opener Break Into Your Heart cannot mask
sorrowfully on American Valhalla. It hasnt been
the misanthropy within. Pops search-andan easy life.
destroy conclusion on sexual partners: Break
Times have indeed been tough for Pop; even
them all, take them all, fake them all, steal them
before Bowies departure this January, the deaths
all, fail them all.
of fellow Stooges Ron and Scott Asheton (in 2009
However, if the cruel world of Post Pop
and 2014, respectively) had robbed him of key
Depression is eat or be eaten, Pop knows he
co-combatants. And, in between the insurance ads,
is no longer predator but prey. Nick Caves
his attempt to subvert his godfather of punk image
Grinderman project explored male-pattern
with oddball chanson collection Aprs foundered
entropy with a wink, but with this wounded
when his record label, Virgin EMI, refused to
howl of a record, Pop stubbornly refuses to see
release it. They would have preferred that I do
the funny side. Grimly compelling, it concludes
a rock album with popular punks, sort of like:
with Pops Everybodys Talkin of the
Hi Dad! he seethed, as he snuck Aprs out
damned, Paraguay, its protagonist trudging
independently in 2012. What has a record
off to the jungle with what remains of his
company ever done for me but humiliate and
Yankee dollars. Im going where sore losers
torment and drag me down?
go, he grunts. To hide my face and spend my
Humiliation is everywhere on Post Pop
dough. Like the rest of Post Pop Depression, it
Depression; the down-on-her-luck beauty of the
sounds like a resignation speech.
lava-lamp-lit Gardenia; the cowed wage slave

THE 1975
I Like It When You
Sleep, For You Are
So Beautiful Yet
So Unaware Of It
DIRTY HIT

Indie boy-band branch


out
spectacularly
7/10 On the
basis of their charttopping 2013 debut, it was easy to dismiss The
1975 as insipid pop-rockers, bred in a record
company petri dish for girls whod outgrown
One Direction. Not so easy now. Their second
album is a staggeringly ambitious/pretentious
17-track splurge, taking in tricksy R&B, M83style dreampop and an ambient electronic
interlude called Please Be Naked. Its most
effective mode is a kind of dense, plasticky 80s
funk-pop, exemplified by Love Me and Ugh!,
which lands somewhere between Usher and Go
West. Overblown and occasionally excruciating,
I Love Its fearless perversity nonetheless puts
most alternative bands to shame.
SAM RICHARDS

STEVEN JAMES
ADAMS
Old Magick
FORTUNA POP!

Alt.pop anti-heros
leaner, solo second
You are welcome here,
Adams over
7/10 croons
emollient guitar chords
at the start of his second albums first track,
Togetherness. Then, Youve been taken
for a ride. Its a typically sharp uppercut
(to the UKs attitude to immigrants) from the
former lynchpin of The Broken Family Band
and Singing Adams. Here, with pianist and
producer Dan Michaelson, he leavens the
latters indie-pop jangle with BFBs gruffer
alt.country, in barbed, modern-life chronicles
that suggest Paul Heaton as a kindred spirit.
As the deceptively swinging Kings Of The
Back Of The Bus has it: We were the guys
with the sparks in their eyes and now its just
New Age bullshit.
SHARON OCONNELL

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

67

New Album

SLEEVE
NOTES

We Can Do Anything
ADD IT UP/PIAS

HERMAN ASPH

Back at last, with a fresh and


natural ninth, says Graeme Thomson
NOT SO MUCH a boast
as an expression of
amused incredulity,
the title of Violent
Femmes ninth
studio album is an
acknowledgement that
few comebacks have
ever been quite so
unlikely. Arriving 16
8/10 years after their last
studio record, and
some 33 since Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and
Victor DeLorenzo first patented their frenetic,
fantastically snotty blend of folk, punk, indie and
country, We Can Do Anything is a testament to sheer
cussedness as much as an act of renewed creativity.
Violent Femmes first two albums 1983s
exuberant eponymous debut and its darker, more
exploratory follow-up, Hallowed Ground remain
essential, and they were rarely less than terrific
during the 80s, but the quality tailed off following
1991s underrated Why Do Birds Sing? and the
departure of DeLorenzo in 1993. In the aftermath of
the underwhelming Freak Magnet in 2000, Ganos
decision to license their classic single Blister In The
Sun to a burger company infuriated Ritchie, who
sued his bandmate while declaring that he had lost
his songwriting ability many years ago.
And that, it seemed, was that, until the bulging
coffers of Coachella inspired a change of heart.
Faced with an offer they couldnt refuse, Violent
Femmes reformed for the festival in 2013, and began
touring again. Last year they released a new EP
and started work on We Can Do Anything, recorded
piecemeal in several US studios, with Gano, Ritchie
and Dresden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione joined
by a handful of old friends.
It wasnt always easy, according to Gano, whose

68 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Gordon Gano
Given all thats happened,
Violent Femmes seem
remarkably well preserved.
Absolutely! It sounds fresh and
natural. People ask, Is it similar
to how it used to be? Its more
than similar, its exactly the same! The majority
of it was recorded live, and in some cases it was
the first time people were hearing these songs,
so its very in-the-moment. I find the title
humorous, because for us all to get in one room
at the same time and play some songs, weve
done something miraculous.

Could Be Anything, the


child-friendly tale of a
heroic dragon-slaying
knight called Sir Bongo, turns into a bizarre
underdog fantasy. Leaping between several
different styles and time signatures, its the most
eccentric and musically complex track on the LP.
Everything feels remarkably fresh and unforced.
The deceptively sweet-toothed doo-wop of Untrue
Love might seem a tad rote, and the herky-jerky
Travelling Solves Everything is a misfire, but the
reflective, heartfelt What You Really Mean better
indicates the depth of quality. Written by Ganos
sister, Cynthia Gayneau, and fleshed out with soft
horns and rippling piano, it harks back to the
unabashed tenderness of Good Feeling and I
Know Its True, But Im Sorry To Say.
All thats lacking are the lowering shadows which
appeared on the greatest Violent Femmes record,
Hallowed Ground. Ganos father was a Baptist
minister, and many of his best songs are soaked in
old-time religion. Theres none of that holy terror
here, sadly, although the ramshackle countrygospel of Im Not Done finds Gano wild in the
sight of God.
Its the closing track on an album which works
equally well as a final curtain or a new chapter. The
band themselves seem unsure which it might turn
out to be. We came together, we broke apart, Gano
sings, throwing out mixed messages to the last. It
has ended; it will not restart. And yet, With all of
this, were not done. Heres hoping.

What is the provenance of these songs? They


date from all over. Probably the oldest are I
Could Be Anything and Big Car, they go back
25 years or so. Ive attempted to play Big Car
with Violent Femmes over the years, and there
have always been dissenters. It almost didnt
make it this time. Its a fun song, then its really
creepy, and then this horror takes place, but I
made the argument that if we dropped it for
those reasons then we shouldnt be watching any
Coen Brothers movies either. And of course
there are other songs like that in our catalogue.
What does the future hold? We take it a piece at
a time. We have a tour Down Under, and we hope
to get to the UK and Europe. I hope it all comes
together, but let me check my email and see what
happened today! INTERVIEW: GRAEME THOMSON

DUNCAN GIBLIN

VIOLENT
FEMMES

muse appears to be a more elusive mistress than she


once was. We Can Do Anything clocks in at a mere 30
minutes. Three of the ten tracks are co-writes, one is
a cover, and the rest are based on ideas which date
back years, sometimes decades.
Given this fragile state of affairs, they wisely
choose to play to their strengths. This is an
instantly familiar mix of anti-folk, post-punk,
phantasmagorical country and alternative rock,
delivered via an equally recognisable blend of raw
acoustic guitars, thrumming acoustic bass and
rattling snare, garnished with Ganos petulant
whine. The singer was at school when he wrote the
first two Violent Femmes album, and even at 52
he appears to be in an arrested state of aggrieved
teenage-hood, locked in psychological warfare with
mocking jocks and sneering prom queens. The
albums stand-out track, Big Car, dates back to the
late 80s and is a macabre revenge fantasy which
begins with Gano cruising with a high-school
teenage tart. With each verse the mood darkens,
until the final line delivers a brutal sting in the tail.
Its classic Gano simultaneously funny,
transgressive and deeply unsettling. Hes rarely shy
about letting his hang-ups hang out. Foothills,
which recalls the carefree stomp of American
Music, casts him as a grudge-holding menial my
boss is a jerk while Issues is an amusing
portrait of a man outwardly scornful of his partners
over-sharing, but secretly turned on by their
relentless neediness. Upbeat opener Memory
manages to be both regretful and spiky. Even I

Produced by:
Jeff Hamilton
Recorded at: BC
Studios, Brooklyn;
Brown Owl Studios,
Nashville; Hamtone
Audio, Milwaukee;
CCM, Denver; Village
Recorders and
Freshkills West, LA
Personnel includes:
Gordon Gano (vocals,
gtr), Brian Ritchie (bass,
vocals), Brian Viglione
(drums, vocals), John
Sparrow (bass cajon),
Jeff Hamilton (gtr,
mandolin, banjo, uke,
vocals, perc), Blaise
Garza (sax, contrabass,
bass), Kevin Hearn (gtr,
acc, piano, organ, vocals)

New Albums
BE
One

FATIMA
AL QADIRI
Brute
HYPERDUB

RIVERTONES

TOUGH LOVE/
BRACE YOURSELF

Still Ballardian,
still brilliant
You are no longer
assembling,
8/10 peacefully
announces a police
voice; that the police are the brutes of the
title is clear, too, from the doctored SWAT
team member on the cover. On her second
album, Al Qadiri gives us a particular
take on urban dystopia inspired in particular
by her adopted home country, the United
States. The titles Endzone, Curfew,
Battery and siren-like synthesisers
are haunting. And though the sonic palette,
beautiful and immersive, warms like a hot
mug in the frost, the dubstep-derived hints
of double-time, perpetually held in reserve,
create the ominous feeling of an attack dog
straining at the leash.

Natural ambient drones


from Spiritualized and
a chorus of 40,000 bees
For the 2015 Milan
artist Wolfgang
6/10 Expo,
Buttress created a hivelike structure to highlight the plight of the
honey bee. This is the soundtrack, featuring
various members of Spiritualized (plus
Youth, singer Camille Buttress and Icelandic
string players Amiina) improvising along
to a live audio feed from a beehive in
Nottingham. For an album of limited
harmonic scope these particular bees
buzz in the key of D there is an impressive
sense of narrative, as the crackling tension
of Uplift gives way to the blissful release
of The Hive. What could have been a
gimmick turns out to be a meditative
mind-meld of man and insect.

Unnerving New Yorkers


second album
York punks Big Ups
8/10 New
work hard to unsettle the
audience, switching between tunes taut enough
to decapitate a walrus (Feathers Of Yes)
and frantic, pummelling, bullying rockers
(National Parks). Joe Galarragas vocals also
veer from shrieking, on the drilling repetition
of Contain Myself, to the terrific Meet
Where We Are, with a whispered, mumbling
lead and accompanying arrangement that is
jazz loose, making the song sound rather like
beatnik hardcore. Through it all, as on debut
Eighteen Hours Of Static, theres a sinister feel,
as if you are being sometimes stalked and
sometimes assaulted, often, as in the case
of So Much You, in the same song.

MARCUS ODAIR

SAM RICHARDS

PETER WATTS

RABROT
The Gospel
FYSISK FORMAT

Norwegian noiserockers refined assault


with help from members
of Swans and Sunn O)))
the bands
7/10 Despite
associations with the
Scandinavian metal scene, rabrots Solar Anus
(2011) owed a greater debt to the post-hardcore
of The Jesus Lizard and Melvins. With its wild
swings between pummelling dirges and more
symphonic exercises in doom-mongering,
seventh album, The Gospel, evokes the more
artistically ambitious but no less menacing
likes of Killing Joke and Swans (the latters
ex-drummer Ted Parsons contributes, as
does Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen OMalley).
Faustus produces a spike in the overall
intensity, while the Bad Seeds I Run
serves as a more compact demonstration
of rabrots ferocity.

WER E
NEW
HERE

BLACK
PEACHES
Get Down You
Dirty Rascals

Big Ups

1965

Groovy Southern rock


from the sixth Hot Chip
Chip utility man
7/10 Hot
Rob Smoughton used to
perform solo as Grovesnor, a yacht-rock crooner
whose arch persona concealed some terrific
songs. His new group Black Peaches ditches
(most of) the irony for an unexpected plunge
into the bayou, serving up funky Southern
rock with lashings of Latin percussion. Its
impeccably performed, the creamy pedal steel
and darts metaphors of Double Top setting
the tone for an album of very British Americana.
Black Peaches never let rip like a White Denim
or a Howlin Rain, but in the same way that
Hot Chip have made their awkwardness an
asset, this reserved take on Southern rock
has charms of its own.
SAM RICHARDS

JASON ANDERSON

Journeyman guitarist
resumes solo career
Aves has played guitar
for The High Llamas,
Hazlewood and Nick
7/10 Lee
Lowe, among many others.
As this first solo album since 2007s You, Me
And Bill Withers attests, hes an engaging
singer-songwriter whose instinctive, winning
wryness takes the edge off some occasionally
ruggedly confessional material Rien De
Rien and The Complainant in particular are
unsparingly realistic depictions of modern
heartbreak. Lighter moments include Cold
Llamas, an account of a wrong turning on
the road, and a surprising samba cover of
Pharrells Happy. Theres a touch of Richard
Thompson about the guitar, and something
of Teddy Thompson about the voice: its not
a bad combination.

I think that being labelled a punk band


is reductive at times, because it ignores the
whole canon of musical history that surrounds
it, says Joe Galarraga, frontman of New Yorkbased Big Ups. And while the four-piece have
much of the anger, pace and claustrophobia
of US punk, they are not simply hardcore
thrashers. This is partly because the quartet
met while studying music in New York. We
studied such a range of things, from recording
and production, to music history, says
Galarraga. The whole experience exposed
us to a wide range of possibilities. I feel like
Ive learned as much listening to romantic-era
music as I have by listening to Fugazi.
Its that sense of the unexpected that makes
Before A Million Universes such a notable
step-up from their debut, Eighteen Hours Of
Static. We definitely took it more seriously,
says Galarraga. The recording process itself
was not terribly different, but our attitude
certainly was. I think, in terms of writing the
songs, we come up with the parts based on
how we would like the songs to feel and not
necessarily focused on a style. It doesnt seem
right to limit ourselves in what kind of sounds
we can use in our music.

Taut, tough
indie-pop, brief
but bolshy
heavy gang from
6/10 ABoston,
Bent Shapes
sit neatly within the kind of literate, fiercely
intelligent pop that labels like Slumberland
specialise in, the bands occasional surface
whimsy masking turbulent depths. They
demonstrate a smart way with melody,
threading hooks that catch around tightly
wound three-piece physicality. They could
do with adding a bit of mystery to their
armoury theres a clarity and earnestness
to some of Wolves Of Want that can underwhelm but the group come with a clutch of
great songs that would sit nicely on a longawaited third volume of Modern Methods
compilation series A Wicked Good Time!.

ANDREW MUELLER

PETER WATTS

JON DALE

PETE AVES
See How
STRESS TESTED

ADAMKOLODNY

BIG UPS
Before A Million
Universes

BENT SHAPES
Wolves
Of Want
SLUMBERLAND

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

69

New Albums

AMERICANA

JOE
BONAMASSA
Blues Of
Desperation
PROVOGUE

GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS
The Narrows

BEST
OF THE
MONTH

Love-him-or-hate-him
blues champ does it again
biggest-selling
7/10 The
bluesman since Stevie Ray
Vaughan, few divide opinion like Bonamassa.
The follow-up to 2014s Different Shades Of Blue
(Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic) is rooted in
his devotion to 1960s/70s British blues-rock
and the awkward notion of white American brat
copying inauthentic Brits who stole from poor
Southern blacks may explain some of the
antipathy. Set aside that notion, though, and
Blues reveals itself to be a barnstorming
triumph that channels Led Zep (This Train),
Free (Mountain Climbing), early Fleetwood
Mac (No Good Place), Jeff Beck (Distant
Lonesome Train) and even Dire Straits
(Drive) into something fresh and invigorating.
NIGEL WILLAMSON

JOHNNY
BORRELL
& ZAZOU
The Atlantic Culture

YEP ROC

Captivating solo work from distinguished US songwriter


Such are the caprices of time that Grant-Lee Phillips is probably
better known in the US for his recurring role on Gilmore Girls than
he is for leading one of the 90s finest exports, Grant Lee Buffalo.
His USP remains pretty much the same: thoughtful, erudite rootsrock that pulls from long-held traditions of folk, country and blues.
His eighth solo album often feels like a personal portrait of
selfhood and loss. Its informed mainly by both the death of his
father, in 2013, and his own Native American heritage (Phillips is
from Creek and Cherokee descent), a connection thats deepened
since his recent move to Tennessee from California. The Narrows, he says, is the most Southern
record that Ive made, allowing me to wear my influences on my sleeve more gallantly.
Heading up a core trio of bassist Lex Price and drummer Jerry Roe, whose father, Dave, played
bass with Johnny Cash, Phillips has created a warm, intimate record with an agreeably grainy
veneer. The gorgeous Moccasin Creek is an imagistic ancestral piece full of old arrowheads,
wildwood flowers and overgrown burial plots that acts as a corollary to the familial themes
explored on 2012s Walking In The Green Corn. Likewise, Yellow Weeds pokes through a sepia
past, guided by pedal steel and some filmy acoustic blues.
Cry Cry, meanwhile, is an impassioned commentary on the Indian Removal of the 1800s that
saw generations of Native Americans forcibly ejected from the South, thousands dying in the
process. A political element also surfaces in Holy Irons, which interweaves Southern history with
the plight of an innocent draftee sucked into a war thats not of his choosing. Like most everything
on The Narrows, its a bittersweet study of fate and circumstance that resonates long after its over.

8/10

ATLANTIC CULTURE

The ongoing jazz


revelations of the former
frontman
5/10 Razorlight
While the mid-2000s indie
dream limps on elsewhere, Johnny Borrell has
ditched Razorlight for louche jazzers Zazou.
Undeterred by the failed Zazou debut and the
Trevor Horn-produced Borrell 1, Borrell veers
further from pop here, embracing Lalo Schifrin
(Zazous Theme), Stevie Wonder (Black
God), New Orleans jazz (The Ego Song) and
sax; We Cannot Overthrow is a soulful update
of its Borrell 1 incarnation, though undermined
by eye-popping lyrics about Borrells bedroom.
The musicianship is interesting, and Borrells
ambitious misfires are infinitely more
captivating than watching Kaiser Chiefs
tilt towards the teatime masses.
LAURA SNAPES

ROB HUGHES

MATTHEW
BOURNE
Moogmemory

THE AMERICANA ROUND-UP


Acclaimed documentary
Heartworn Highways,
James Szalapskis
fascinating study of the
Outlaw Country scene
in Tennessee and Texas
during the mid-70s, gets
the deluxe treatment this
April. Light In The Attics reissue boasts a
restored DVD (with 45 minutes of bonuses,
including performances by Townes Van
Zandt, Guy Clark and others), an 80-page
book and a double-album soundtrack
on whiskey-coloured vinyl. Housed in a
handcrated wooden box, its limited to
1,000 copies for Record Store Day.
The same month also sees the release of
Upland Stories, the ninth album from US
roots master Robbie Fulks, fresh from
his recent collaboration with The Mekons.

Produced by Steve Albini, its partly inspired


by novelist James Agees trip to Alabama
in 1936, the result of which was his scathing
commentary on rural poverty, Let Us Now
Praise Famous Men. Other songs derive
from tales of the upland areas of Virginia
and North Carolina, where Fulks grew up.
Texan songwriter Hayes Carll, meanwhile,
is set to release Lovers And Leavers,
recorded in LA with Joe Henry at the
controls. There are very few hoots
and almost no hollers, Carll says of his
rst eort in ve years. But its joyous,
and it makes me smile.
And on the live front, the CMA
Songwriters Series returns to the UK
on March 10. Indigo2 at Londons O2 plays
host to Ashley Monroe, Charles Esten,
Shane McAnally, Lori McKenna and
Charlie Worsham. ROB HUGHES

THE LEAF LABEL

One vintage machine,


multiform pleasure
Matthew Bourne is both
strikingly talented
7/10 ajazz/improv
musician and
a boldly adventurous composer. Following
Radioland, on which he teamed up with French
composer Franck Vigroux to reconfigure
Kraftwerks Radio-Activity, he tasked himself
with writing and performing a song set using
only his (upgraded) 1982 Memorymoog. What
might have been a dry academic exercise is
in fact a seductive display of its polyphonic
subtleties, which Bourne bends into moodshifting soundscapes. The opening track
occupies the peculiar space where a flutter
becomes a judder, while standout On Rivock
Edge is fantastically malevolent, an epic drone
that suggests Sunn O))) soundtracking The Fog.
SHARON OCONNELL

70 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

New Albums
AZIZA
BRAHIM
Abbar El
Hamada

DE MONTEVERT
De Montevert

CHRISTINE AND
THE QUEENS
Chaleur Humaine
BECAUSE MUSIC

NO METHOD

Desert rock and


beyond from
legend
7/10 Sahrawi
A potent voice on the
breathtaking Sahrauis: The Music Of The
Western Sahara compilation from 1998,
Aziza Brahim has long been a key figure in
Sahrawi music. Following 2014s Soutak,
on Abbar El Hamada she has worked once
again with Glitterbeat owner, and leader of
Americana legends The Walkabouts, Chris
Eckman, resulting in the most focused of her
four albums so far. If anything, it can feel a
little too smoothed out, and some more grit
in the production wouldnt go astray. But as a
singer in, and of, exile, Brahims voice and
words are perfectly poised, pulling no
punches. A salutary listen.

French torch-pop starlet


makes English-language
bid for greatness
is a reissue not
7/10 When
a reissue? When its an
English-language reimagining of a six-timesplatinum French release. This expertly
wrought debut is an impressive platform for
twentysomething polymath Hlose Letissier.
The albums title translates as human warmth,
and here are 12 superior torch songs, lit by
YouTube-breaking art-pop single Christine.
Weimar-ian staging and art-school sensibilities
bring serious drama to music that sounds like it
is trapped in an alternate 1985, where Talk Talk,
David Sylvian and Propagandas Duel are
required listening by law. Jonathan is great,
but Narcissus Is Back is exquisite: the offhand
desperation that the French do so well.

Delicious debut from


Swedish classically
trained cellist
Ellinor Nilsson makes
dream-pop
7/10 enticing
that evokes a raft of
comparisons, from Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500
to Bat For Lashes and SVIIB, but with a looser,
skewed Scandi spontaneity thats entirely
her own. Tracks such as the spacy improvs
of Close Encounter and the stark Home
boast an appealingly raw demo quality,
setting up an intriguing juxtaposition with
the more arranged, poppier aesthetics of
Summer Heart and Its Alright, Im Probably
Dreaming. Singing in English in a voice
that sits somewhere between Lisa Gerrard
and Kim Deal, her theme is love and
betrayal, culminating in the unsettling
Ode To Mental Instability.

JON DALE

MARK BENTLEY

NIGEL WILLIAMSON

GLITTERBEAT

BUIKA
Vivir Sin Miedo
EAST WEST

Spanish-African
diva breaks for the
mainstream
Before she became a
icon
8/10 world-music
singing flamenco with
a Latin-jazz twist, Concha Buika performed
in casinos as a Tina Turner imitator. Her
seventh album doesnt quite turn full circle
to reinvent her as an R&B queen, but having
relocated from Madrid to Miami, its an
unashamed and audacious bid for crossover
success, adding contemporary urban,
reggae, raga and gospel flavours to the
flamenco beats, Latin and African rhythms
of past releases. Singing in English for
the first time, its a near-flawless, heroic
reinvention as her husky, fiery voice evokes
the imperious spirit of Nina Simone or an
unstoppable, Latin-tinged Erykah Badu.

WER E
NEW
HERE

DIMINISHED
MEN
Vision In Crime

Bullion

ABDUCTION

Seattle instrumental
trios noir-ish fourth
The soundtrack to an
movie genus is
7/10 invisible
now so long established,
its spawned several species of its own. But
Diminished Men who include drummer Dave
Abramson, of Master Musicians Of Bukkake
have mutated the form, adding drone, freeform
jazz, exotica and gamelan orchestrals to a base
of spy/action and spaghetti western scores.
Vision In Crime frequently pulls away from its
prescriptive title, notably with the swaggering
CRM Discriminator, kosmische strut Shadow
Petram and standout Kudzu Mine: Miles and
Jimi battle John Barry. The opening nuclearattack siren/spoken-word piece Preparedness
Actions (whitewash the windows this must
be done) is a neat red herring.

London beat freaks


sumptuous plastic soul
Bullions Nathan Jenkins
is a fastidious producer
the mould of Godley
8/10 in
& Creme, whose much
dithered-over debut has been a long time
coming. His run of EPs and mixes for hip
labels Young Turks and R&S hinted at his
mischievous pop pedigree, and now Loop
The Loop, issued via his own DEEK imprint,
shows hes a modern-day master of
curiously English psychedelia. Sanguine
and self-deprecating, Jenkins rues lifes
missed chances as he joins the dots between
sparkling synth-funk (Its No Spirit),
sax-laced sci-fi boogie (Speed), mellow
exotica (Health) and so much more. Best
of all, Jenkins conveys his obsession with
sound beautifully.

By his own admission, Nathan Jenkins is a


tinkerer. I finished my album three times in
three years, says the 31-year-old producer
behind Bullions psych-pop curveball Loop
The Loop. In the end, Mica from Micachu And
The Shapes gave me some sage advice: you
have to hate it before you release it. She was
right. Luckily, all that extra time in the studio
allowed Jenkins Bullion debut to develop into
a rich and strange odyssey through English
outsider pop that taps a wealth of influences
John Martyn, Vini Reilly, Jona Lewie, Godley
& Creme to fashion a peculiar kind of neon
acid folk that eludes easy categorisation.
As Bullion, Jenkins has struggled to fit
in ever since he emerged in 2007 with his
astonishing Beach Boys and J Dilla mash-up
Pet Sounds: In The Key Of Dee, which is still
regularly bootlegged on vinyl, though not by
him, he adds. Ater several one-o releases
plus stints programming beats for the likes
of Usher hes settling down with his own
label, Deek, and its coterie of o-key English
pop artists such as Laura Groves and Never.
Happiest in the studio, Jenkins will do all he
can to keep Bullion from the stage. Its too
daunting, he says. Id be a nervous wreck.
Im not a showman.

Music as wearable
tech from Spanish
hip-pop Svengali
The word multimedia
do this justice.
7/10 doesnt
Named after a chain of
Chinese bazaars in Madrid, this is the third
album from vaunted producer and Bjrk
collaborator Pablo Diaz-Reixa, and its a
clashing confection of skittering beats,
ultra-processed vocals and rainbow-coloured
synths. Accompanying the album is what
else? a fashion collection of wristbands and
sweatshirts embedded with NFC Bluetooth
chips, which can unlock exclusive content
when paired with a smartphone. El Guincho
is a kind of Iberian Kanye, and this is a twisted
fantasy of wine-bar techno: busy, brash and
migrainey, at its adventurous best on Comix
and Mis Hits.

PIERS MARTIN

PIERS MARTIN

MARK BENTLEY

NIGEL WILLIAMSON

BULLION
Loop The Loop
DEEK

SHARON OCONNELL

EL GUINCHO
HiperAsia
EVERLASTING

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

71

New Albums

CHRIS
FORSYTH
AND THE
SOLAR
MOTEL
BAND
The Rarity Of
Experience
NO QUARTER

KAIT PRIVATERA

US mavericks adventurous
double. By Michael Bonner
ITS POSSIBLE TO tell
a lot about an artist
not only by the songs
they cover, but also
the manner in which
they choose to
perform them. Here,
Philadelphia-based
guitarist Forsyth
closes The Rarity Of
8/10 Experience with a
version of Richard
Thompsons The Calvary Cross. While discreetly
respectful to the original, Forsyth maps his own
path through the song a long, winding journey
showcasing the formidable clarity of Forsyths
playing. The rest of The Rarity Of Experience bristles
with similar moments of high drama expansive
jams interwoven with razor-sharp dynamics. This
album pushes and pulls in so many directions, it
should fall apart; remarkably, it doesnt.
The Rarity Of Experience is the second album
Forsyth has recorded with the Solar Motel Band,
currently featuring Paul Sukeena (guitar), Peter
Kerlin (bass) and Steven Urgo (drums). Their
previous record, 2014s Intensity Ghost,
foregrounded the formidable interplay between
Forsyth and Sukeena, whose twin guitars evoke
great tag teams passim such as Neil Young and
Danny Whitten, Lou Reed and Robert Quine or
most pertinently Tom Verlaine and Richard
Lloyd. There are changes afoot on The Rarity Of
Experience. Opener Anthem I begins with an
oscillating synth line (courtesy of Jamie Fennelly,
from Forsyths previous band, Peeesseye);
elsewhere, Forsyth sings.
But the alterations are not just cosmetic. The
albums wide-ranging scope is critical. The Rarity Of
Experience is a double album: most of the material
on Disc One has been honed on the road for the past
year, while the second disc is more experimental in
nature. Forsyth has also re-recorded some tracks
from elsewhere in his catalogue that fit in with his
current set. Both discs reflect the different aspects
of Forsyth: the formidable guitarist with a killer live
band, and the improvisatory musician operating on
the fringes of space rock and free jazz.
The first three minutes of Anthem II are an
explosive showcase for the bands strengths. Driven
by Urgos pounding drums and Kerlins vigorous
basslines, the guitars weave and rut, alternately
squalling and keening. The Rarity Of Experience Pt
1 a compact 2:23, the shortest track here finds

72 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

SLEEVE
NOTES
Produced by:
Chris Forsyth
Recorded in:
Philadelphia
Personnel: Chris
Forsyth (guitar,
vocals), Paul Sukeena
(guitar), Peter Kerlin
(bass), Steven Urgo
(drums), Shawn Hansen
(keyboards), Daniel
Carter (saxophone,
trumpet), Ryan
Sawyer (percussion),
Jamie Fennelly
(synthesiser)

Forsyth singing in a dryly disaffected


voice not unlike Thurston Moore
(Moore and Ranaldo are perhaps
another comparable pairing to Forsyth
and Sukeena). Meanwhile, the
descending guitar motif of Pt 2,
threatens to burst into Marquee
Moon at a moments notice.
Buttressed by echoey organ stabs from
regular collaborator Shawn Hansen, it
reveals taut, new-wave rhythms,
echoed by Forsyths minimalistic
lyrics: Think once/
Think twice/Cant think/Soul on ice.
The 10-minute High Castle Rock
never breaks its energy; each part
of the song is a conduit to another delirious Forsyth
solo or else it simply ploughs on forward, powered
by the bands formidable rhythm section. The mic
setup on
Urgos drums captures a deep, resonant boom that
provides a solid foundation for the febrile playing
of the two guitarists. High Castle Rock also
makes clear the distinctions between Forsyth and
Sukeenas playing. Forsyth seems to chisel out
each chiming note he studied guitar with Richard
Lloyd in the late 1990s whereas Sukeena favours
tight, spidery scrabblings that occasionally recall

Chris Forsyth
When did you start working
on the album?
The first tracks were recorded
in December, 2014. The Richard
Thompson cover was the first
song that was recorded. A
couple date back to demos or fragments I have
from 1995. So Ive either been working on it for
20 years or 11 months!
Why a double album?
The idea was to record as much as we could,
then see what stuck. The week ater we mixed,
I listened to it and realised, Oh, shit. We made
two records. The way it breaks down is, the rst
record is the bulk of the live set weve been

Nels Cline. Disc One finishes with


Harmonious Dance, a looser, more
cosmic number that loops round a
mellifluous guitar refrain.
Disc Two opens with the outstanding
The First Ten Minutes Of Cocksucker
Blues: an imagined alternative score
to the beginning of Robert Franks 1972
Stones doc that pulses with a periodauthentic sense of menace. Forsyth
originally recorded this on 2012s solo
set, Kenzo Deluxe; for this version,
the band is joined by free jazz player
Daniel Carter, whose woozy saxophone
and trumpet lines add sinister
undercurrents to the song. Elsewhere,
Forsyths guitar on the down-tempo Boston Street
Lullabye recalls the sepulchral twang of Lows
Alan Sparhawk. Initially favouring some graceful
acoustic strumming, Old Phase slowly builds
itself to full strength as Forsyth and Sukeenas
guitar lines spiral and rise with fine fluidity. The
album closes with The Calvary Cross: Thompsons
mysterious invocation to his poetic muse. The
songs blank verse suits Forsyths semi-spoken
delivery here. But presumably taking his cue
from the extended live version included on
Thompsons (guitar/vocal) album, Forsyths

playing for the past year in addition to some


things from the other records that are like the
songs in the repertoire. The second record is
some things that were sonically dierent from
what the live band were doing. Then theres the
Richard Thompson cover. We played that live a
number of times.
Can you talk us through a couple of your
favourite tracks?
The rst side is the stu Im most excited about.
People tend to frame everything I do in terms
of classic guitar bands which is ne and not
untrue, but I wanted to throw a little curveball.
So the rst thing you hear is the sequencer going
wahwahwah, then the band comes crashing in.
The title track has got the most singing Ive done
on anything up to this point. I think the rst side
has a lot of new areas being explored. But I like
all of them!
INTERVIEW: MICHAEL BONNER

New Albums
ESSAIE PAS
Demain Est Une
Autre Nuit

FERNANDO
Leave The
Radio On

DFA

DCOR

JEREMY GARA
Limn
NRCSS INDUSTRY

Montreal electro duo


explore 50 shades of
monochrome
Davidson and
7/10 Marie
Pierre Gurineau confect a
Betamax retro-futurist sound that risks straying
into pastiche at times, and is all the better for it.
Throbbing with monophonic analogue synths,
Roland TR-505 beats and sulky French vocals,
the duos second album takes place mostly in a
reconstructed early 80s fantasy of kohl-eyed
alienation. Thankfully, they rewire this timeless
aesthetic with more open-minded affection
than stifling reverence. As the siren-powered
dancefloor belter Retox and the towering
synth-noir chanson La Chute demonstrate,
there is room for both sexy hedonism and
baroque melodrama in their hauntological
flirtations with the ghosts of electronicas past.

Breakout moment
for crown prince
of Portlandia
the past 20 years,
8/10 For
Argentina-born
Fernando Viciconte has been Portlands
best-kept secret, a highly talented singersongwriter whose admirers include Peter
Buck, Steve Wynn and Willy Vlautin. Some of
them fetch up on this first European release,
Buck joined by fellow REM bandmate Scott
McCaughey as well as members of Richmond
Fontaine and The Delines. The overriding
tone is a pluralistic kind of psychedelic folk
that finds room for Tex-Mex, cosmic country
and MMJ-ish space-rock. Its all artfully
rendered and beautifully paced, not least
No Mercy In July, which sounds like
vintage Roy Wood by way of Flaming Lips.

Arcade Fire sticksman


conjures off-piste
ambience
Perhaps mindful that
from Ringo
6/10 drummers
Starr to Father John Misty
have had a crack at a solo career, Jeremy Gara
has pieced together his own album, though
commercial viability appears to be the last thing
on his mind. This defiantly challenging work
features 10 instrumental collages that make
the second side of Low sound like Black Lace,
conjuring up varying shades of ambient dread,
from the eerie drift of Imagined Machines
and Tangles (which recalls Sigur Rs side
project Riceboy Sleeps) to the industrial
turbulence of Chicago and Judgement
Dialogue. At its best the terrific Violence,
the lilting A New Age Limn casts a
bewitching spell, but its an unsettling ride.

STEPHEN DALTON

ROB HUGHES

GRAEME THOMSON

EXEC
The Limber Real
TAMBOURHINOCEROS

Doleful Danish dirges


with an undertow of
bleak beauty
On a break from his day
fronting Danish indie7/10 job
rockers Veto, singer and
keyboard player Troels Abrahamsen enters a
more rarefied realm of emotionally charged
esoterica on this solo collection of chamber-folk
ballads. Tapping into a tremulous new vocal
register that falls somewhere between Antony
Hegarty and Scott Walker, Abrahamsen coos
traumatised confessionals and oneiric visions
over treated piano, drawing on Nordic psalm
tradition for doleful dirges like Hymn and the
strident, key-bashing, sinew-twisting curio
Peers. Though a little sombre and self-serious
in places, Exec delivers enough piercing vocal
intensity and avant-folk beauty to excuse its
sphincter-clenching shrillness.

REVELATIONS

THE HANGING
STARS
Over The
Silvery Lake

Brian Fallon takes an indefinite


break from The Gaslight Anthem

THE GREAT POP SUPPLEMENT/


CRIMSON CROW

Country-psych
from impressive
7/10 London
debutants
A promising debut from Londons The Hanging
Stars, who switch deftly between deliciously
sentimental Americana and swaggering
psychedelia. The band are equally comfortable
in either territory, sounding like the Broken
Family Band or Lambchop on Floodbound
and The Hanging Stars, songs lent a yearning
quality via pedal steel, but also dealing in
the Scouse pop of The Las and Boo Radleys
on For A While, The House On The Hill
and the brilliant She Never Sleeps. The
widescreen Running Waters Wide,
reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield, ends
things on an impressively ambitious note.

STEPHEN DALTON

PETER WATTS

Solid solo debut


by Gaslight Anthem
frontman
is often the case
7/10 Itthat
when a singer
from a reasonably well-known band
makes their first solo album, they seize
the opportunity to explore horizons denied
them by the strictures of their group.
That is not remotely what has happened
here: little on Painkillers would sound
misplaced on any given Gaslight Anthem
album. Which, if one is predisposed
to the bands hearty but thoughtful
brand of rocknroll, is no bad thing:
The tracks A Wonderful Life and
Among Other Foolish Things are
especially worthy additions to an already
impressive songbook.

At this point, asks Brian Fallon, discussing


the reasons for striking out under his own
name, why not? It was the one thing I hadnt
done and still had the desire to do. Fallons
slight restlessness with The Gaslight Anthem
has been apparent for some time, leading
him into such side-projects as the whiskeystained balladry of The Horrible Crowes and
the rumbustious Americana of Molly & The
Zombies. With The Gaslight Anthem having
declared an indefinite hiatus ater touring
their 2014 album, Get Hurt, Fallon was free to
be himself.
If I did another side-project, he says, I
was limited to only working in the realm of
the project, which is exactly the reason to do
a solo record. I decided that if I brought my
side projects under my own name then I could
play songs from, and work inside, those worlds
all in one place. Fallon selected Painkillers as
a title because, Ive always looked at music
as a sort of consoler and songs as a comfort. It
seemed a tting title with that in mind.
And The Gaslight Anthem?
Out of the office, he says, presumed
having a good time.

Revered music
biographer picks up
his guitar and rounds
6/10 up
famous friends
When they interview favourite musicians,
some writers ask for an autograph or a
plectrum. Biographer Colin Harpers
approach is different he asks his subjects to
make music with him. Bert Jansch,
Wishbone Ashs Andy Powell, Duffy
Power, Chris Spedding and members of
Mahavishnu Orchestra all appear on an LP
recorded over several years, a loving, mostly
instrumental homage to his favourite music
from the 1960s and 70s, spanning folk, jazz,
rock, blues and Celtic music. Listening to his
guitar duet with Jansch on Blues For A
Green Earth, he really can play, too.

ANDREW MUELLER

ANDREW MUELLER

NIGEL WILLIAMSON

BRIAN
FALLON
Painkillers
ISLAND

COLIN
HARPER
Sunset
Cavaliers
MARKET SQUARE

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

73

New Albums
HERON
OBLIVION
Heron Oblivion

CHRIS ISAAK
First Comes
The Night

JAMES
Girl At The End
Of The World

SUB POP

RHINO

BMG

San Franciscos new


psych-folk supergroup
the Egretful Dead?
those whove spent the
7/10 For
21st century exploring the
US psychedelic underground, Heron Oblivion
is quite the proposition, anchored as it is by
members of Comets On Fire and Espers. Its the
latters eldritch vibe that dominates, thanks to
the charmingly forlorn vocals of Meg Baird (also
on drums). Comets pivot Ethan Miller is on bass,
ceding guitar duties to Noel Von Harmonson
(Comets, Sic Alps) and Charlie Saufley
(Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound), but the
general molten tone is still familiar on the heady
likes of Oriar and Rama. Trees might be the
best 70s antecedent; the Japanese Ghost a more
modern analogue for these seething reveries,
tantalisingly poised on the edge of freak-out.

First album of
original material
since 2009 from
the Wicked
7/10 Game
player
After indulging his inner Elvis on 2011s
Beyond The Sun, a set of 1950s covers that
genuflected at Sam Phillips Memphis
shrine, Isaak returns to the songwriting
game with a Nashville-recorded set that is
pleasant but unfulfilling. The biggest issue
is that his deep, dark-chocolate baritone
has gone milky, while some of the songs are
distinctly low-calorie. The title track
sounds oddly like a Cat Stevens medley,
and Please Dont Call is the sort of song
Calexico would throw away, but Reverie
and Kiss Me Like A Stranger at least hint
at the old black magic.

Purposeful and stirring


career revival continues
for Manchester veterans
once more by
7/10 Overseen
Max Dingel, producer
of 2014s La Petite Mort, Girl At The End
Of The World extends and advances on its
predecessors spirited reboot. Snarled opener
Bitch sets up Tim Booths barbed lyrical
concerns, while the lusty air of retribution
and reflection that permeates tunes calls
on the full range of James firepower from the
galloping Surfers Song to the gloom-laced
kiss-off Dear John. Their urban folk and
anthemic rave roots coalesce on the luminous
Attention, while the muscular attack and
inventiveness hold good to the righteous
spleen of Waking and the title tracks
sweeping finale.

JOHN MULVEY

NIGEL WILLIAMSON

GAVIN MARTIN

HOLY ESQUE
At Hopes Ravine
BEYOND THE FREQUENCY

Post-punky Scots scale


up on intermittently
thrilling debut
Though this intense young
quartet have been building
7/10 momentum
in Glasgow
over the past four years, two members hail from
The Jesus And Mary Chains original stamping
ground of East Kilbride. Its tempting to
emphasize that lineage given how At Hopes
Ravines brooding contents evoke Darklands if
run through Kurt Cobains guitar pedal on Come
As You Are. Frontman Pat Hynes desperate
howl adds a more distinctive element, as does
the stadium-ready heft of early single Rose
and new standout Silences. Even if several
songs see them veer too close to conventional
power-balladry or Joy Division karaoke, Holy
Esque are mostly wise to favour the first part of
the time-honoured go-big-or-go-home strategy.

REVELATIONS

JESU/SUN
KIL MOON
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon

I Monsters Jarrod Gosling gives


a crash course in synth history

CALDO VERDE/ROUGH TRADE

Beauty and reverie


mix in this inevitably
doom-laden match-up
Mark Kozelek
8/10 between
and Justin Broadrick
With its concrete slabs of riffage and doomy
layers of synthesiser, opener Good Morning
My Love raises fears that Sun Kil Moons more
delicate side may be crushed under the weight
of Jesus avant-metal dirges. But not even this
collaborations most thunderous moments
detract from the quieter power of the singers
frank, free-associative lyrics. As is often the
case, death is very much on Kozeleks mind
and the two most spellbinding songs use the
passing of their subjects Yes bassist Chris
Squire in Fragile and Nick Caves son Arthur
in Exodus as departure points for wideranging ruminations on grief.

Concept album about


synth pioneers,
complete with
accompanying doc
Honer and Jarrod
6/10 Dean
Gosling are from a
proud lineage of Sheffield synth worshippers
stretching all the way back to the Human
League and Cabaret Voltaire. Bright Sparks is
their tribute to the inventors of these mystical
machines, with a song devoted to each of the
main players Moog, Chamberlin, EMS, etc
complete with lyrics describing their various
eureka moments. Rather than place these
sounds in a contemporary techno context,
I Monster have opted for a kitschy, retrofuturistic approach that can get a little silly
(their rousing, psychedelic Buchla homage
is a notable exception). But for a crash course
in synth history, its pretty effective.

What is it about Sheffield and synths?


Maybe because its a steel-based city,
muses local lad Jarrod Gosling of I Monster,
who was originally inspired by the bracing
bleeps of Warp Records. But once The
Human League and Cabaret Voltaire went
with the synth sound, it seemed to get passed
down the generations.
I Monsters new album, Bright Sparks, is a
love-letter to the boffins who established this
brave new musical world; each track tells the
story of a dierent synth pioneer, eshed out
with the distinctive sounds of the instrument
they created, from Moog to Mellotron.
Goslings favourite to play was the Buchla.
It looks mental. It doesnt have a keyboard,
just big metal contact plates that make weird
noises. It was invented on the West Coast
in the mid-60s so it became the perfect
psychedelic machine. He also has a sot spot
for EDPs Wasp synth. Although conceived
by a prog-loving descendant of Richard
Wagner, it makes a brutal noise that got
used by punk bands.
You can learn more in Bright Sparks
accompanying two-hour documentary.
Gosling is just itching to get started on
Volume 2, featuring Yamaha, Roland and
Korg. That would be nice wouldnt it, going
over to Japan

Further death chants,


breakdowns and avantfolk perambulations
Unlike most latterday John
disciples, Jones has
7/10 Fahey
gruelling real-life experience
of the man: 1997s The Epiphany Of Glenn Jones, a
collaboration between Fahey and Jones old band
Cul De Sac, is fraught testimony to that. Exposure
to late-period Fahey did not, however, derail
Jones study of the maestros American Primitive
heyday. Fleeting, once again, is a loving, diligent
and honest attempt by Jones to pay fingerpicking
homage to his hero: Flower Turned Inside Out,
in particular, is a beauty. Explicit nods to
Robbie Basho and Michael Chapman also figure,
confirming Jones as a brilliant scholar whose
technical virtuosity is, fortunately, matched
by an emotional intelligence that shines through
even his most deferential music.

SAM RICHARDS

SAM RICHARDS

JOHN MULVEY

JASON ANDERSON

I MONSTER
Bright Sparks
TWINS OF EVIL

74 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

JASON ANDERSON

GLENN JONES
Fleeting
THRILL JOCKEY

New Albums
MEILYR
JONES
2013

NICHOLAS
KRGOVICH
The Hills

LELAND
SUNDRIES
Music For Outcasts

MOSHI MOSHI

TIN ANGEL

DCOR

Welsh meditations
inspired by the
Eternal City
cues from Lord
7/10 Taking
Byron and Rome, this
solo album from the former Race Horses
singer is a dramatic affair, from the terrific
glam stomp and swing of opening track
How To Recognise A Work Of Art to
the arch melodrama of the gorgeous
Passionate Friend. Songs are draped in
strings and are sometimes overly winsome,
with Jones Welsh lilt front and centre. At
their best Return To Life, Refugees
these bring together aspects of Super Furry
Animals (Jones has played bass in the past
for Gruff Rhys Neon Neon), John Grant,
Luke Haines and even a splash of Pulp
at their more restrained.

Enveloping, sophisticated
pop from Canadian
indie mainstay
Hills completes Nicholas
8/10 The
Krgovichs Los Angeles
trilogy; the Vancouver musician released the
lavish On Sunset in 2014, documenting his
experiences as an outsider in the sprawl, and
reprised those songs solo on 2015s On Cahuenga.
The palette of On Sunset returns here, equally
indebted to Joe Jackson (The Place Goes Quiet),
Arthur Russell (Lookout Point) and Jens
Lekman (Mountain Of Song), but the focus is
on intimacy rather than alienation. Its densely
layered: nestled around string-heavy interludes
are soulful, noirish pop songs with rhythmic
vocals and bold countermelodies. As with Ariel
Pinks Before Today, youd hope it might become
this DIY stalwarts breakthrough moment.

New York indie rockers


eclectic debut
Theres heaps of wit and
melody on this debut
7/10 from
New Yorks Leland
Sundries, who tie a variety of genres to
frontman Nick Loss-Eatons gravelly voice and
smart lyrics. Studebaker is the standout,
beautiful rambling storytelling that flirts
with pop and sounds a little like Silver Jews,
something compounded by its follow-up,
country weeper Keys In The Boot. But
elsewhere Leland Sundries come on like The
Clash as they rip through a warped version of
the American songbook, trying out garage rock
on Greyhound From Reno, dirty blues on
Freckle Blues, Springsteen widescreen
romanticism on Stripper From Bensonhurst
and gleeful rockabilly on Bad Hair Day.

PETER WATTS

LAURA SNAPES

PETER WATTS

DAMIEN
JURADO
Visions Of Us
On The Land

KIRAN LEONARD
Grapefruit

RAY
LAMONTAGNE
Ouroboros
COLUMBIA

MOSHI MOSHI

A sonic voyage through


Americana from the
8/10 singer-songwriter
As ever, Damien Jurados
masterful pastiches serve as sonic comfort food
for the average Uncut reader. Lon Bella is a
nod to John Martyns Solid Air; Prisms to
Linda Perhacs; Cinco De Tomorrow and AM
AM are wistful Roy Orbison epics; the last
three tracks are particularly Dylanesque; while
the Jos Feliciano-ish Mellow Blue Polka Dot
even sees him quoting from his own 2014 single
Silver Timothy. But Jurados skill is to marshal
these references to construct a cinematic road
trip through a hidden America, conjuring up
images of hippy communes, Indian reservations
and freaky preachers. Dreamy, trippy and filled
with elegant hooks, its his best yet.

Psych-rock curveball
on Maine mans sixth
Its an unusual narrative
that features both
7/10 working
in a shoe
factory and winning a Grammy, but thats
Ray LaMontagnes story. Best known for
country-folk pop songs strong on traditional
storytelling, the singer, songwriter and guitarist
has in fact switched direction several times,
most strikingly on 2014s Dan Auerbachproduced Supernova. Now, hes hired Jim James,
whose spiritual beliefs he seems to share, along
with a taste for cosmic rock and psychedelic
blues, all of which figure on the compellingly
heavy Hey, No Pressure. In My Own Way
returns RLM to his Stephen Stills-ish heartland,
but his declaration on the lunging Changing
Man suggests the past is just that.

Second brilliant album


from the Saddleworth
avant-rock prodigy
Still just 20 years old, Kiran
is a formidable
8/10 Leonard
talent, comparable to
Stephen Malkmus and Dave Longstreth in the
way he joyfully deconstructs rock forms and
bends language to his own quixotic will. Hes
as comfortable arranging for string quartet
as he is charging through Slint post-rock
territory in multi-part epics that teeter on the
edge of chaos before galloping off somewhere
new. Sometimes words are thrown around for
fun (The nihilists ballad is the crux of the
wraith! yelps Leonard on Exeter Services),
but sometimes they cut deeply, as on
the haunting Fireplace, sung from the
perspective of a man battling insanity as he
grieves for his dead wife. Unique and inspiring.

JOHN LEWIS

SHARON OCONNELL

SAM RICHARDS

SECRETLY CANADIAN

KANO
Made In The Manor

LPSLEY
Long Way Home

PARLOPHONE

XL

LORETTA
LYNN
Full Circle
LEGACY

East London rapper goes


back to his roots
Kane Robinson aka Kanos
fifth LP comes bathed
nostalgia, paying
7/10 in
emotional tribute to friends
and family and reflecting on life in his native
London. While theres nothing here to equal
his career-changing hit Ps And Qs, opener
Hail comes close with its down-and-dirty
signature riff and Kanos excellent
pronouncement: This aint no RP cup-of-tea
music/Its real East End theme music.
Elsewhere, the nimble This Is England recalls
his early years partying with fellow rappers
Wiley and Lethal Bizzle in the land of pie and
mash. His longtime collaborator Damon
Albarn also pops up on the affecting Deep
Blues, on which Kano wearily observes:
Life can get really, really real.

XL dilute two of their


strongest aces into
this weak facsimile
Liverpools Lpsley is the
face of the hollow
4/10 latest
electronic British soul
scene that conveys little sense of its origins.
Signed to XL, the producer and singer croons
down the middle of the road between two of
her significantly more distinctive labelmates,
Adele and FKA Twigs. Her debut concerns a
profound heartbreak, but rarely do you sense
the real pain that underpins these limp
ballads and her aggressively mannered
delivery. Long Way Home occasionally sparks
to life: Operator (He Doesnt Call Me) is
a slice of retro soul that recalls M People,
while Silverlake gains a hypnotic, lapping
momentum. Otherwise, James Blake has
a lot to answer for.

Overdue follow-up
to Van Lear Rose
The decade-plus gap
the discography
8/10 in
that has followed
2004s justly acclaimed Jack Whiteproduced Van Lear Rose is forgivable: Lynn
will turn 84 in 2016, after all. Its also fair
enough that Full Circle is something of a
victory lap, starting with a revisiting of the
first song she ever wrote Whispering
Sea and including several new takes
on old country standards, including some
of Lynns own composition (Fist City,
Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven).
Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello appear
as duet partners, affably resigned to not
competing with that unmistakable,
undimmed voice.

FIONA STURGES

LAURA SNAPES

ANDREW MUELLER

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

75

New Albums
THE MAGNETIC
NORTH
Prospect Of
Skelmersdale

MOTHERS
When You Walk
A Long Distance
You Are Tired

MIIKE SNOW
iii
ATLANTIC

Trios superb second


centres on UK home
Transcendental
8/10 of
Meditation
Their outstanding 2012 debut, Orkney: Symphony
Of The Magnetic North, focused this multi-tasking
threesomes energy and vision around a vivid
dream from Erland Coopers Scottish childhood.
Here, drawing on Verve and Gorillaz man Simon
Tongs experience growing up in the UKs first TM
community, an appropriately meditative mood
presides. The trios captivating blend of archive
voiceovers, yearning harmonies and melodic
lushness proves as compelling as Hannah Peels
vocal daring, best heard on Little Jerusalem
and George Harrison cover Run Of The Mill.
The bands status as one of these islands premier
musical psychogeographers is unassailable.

Swedish/American
studio band offer highclass pop without the ego
Having written or
for Britney,
8/10 produced
Madonna and Bruno Mars
among many others, Miike Snow are clearly
masters of the modern pop idiom. But their
own material is mercifully free of the brashness
or faux-humility that big-name stars tend
to pack as standard. It means a perky song
about a jealous lover comparing himself to
Genghis Khan comes across as charmingly
arch instead of glib; twinkling electro-ballad
I Feel The Weight is genuinely wistful;
and pop brat Charli XCXs appearance on the
glitchy, carnivalesque For U feels exuberant
rather than tiresomely in-yer-face. A cameo
from Run The Jewels is a final treat on an
album full of them.

Art-school grads
poised yet visceral first
GAs Kristine
7/10 Athens,
Leschper launched
Mothers as a solo side-project to her visual arts
studies and wrote most of When You Walk A
Long Distance You Are Tired in her final year.
Shes self-taught, which might explain the
unpredictability of her grungy post-rock and
haunting art-folk songs, if not their confident
presentation. Leschper meditates on creativity,
identity and self-doubt in a voice thats equal
parts Angel Olsen and Waxahatchee, while
the music played by a full band runs
the expressive gamut, from a delicate (and
painfully honest) It Hurts Until It Doesnt
to the math-rock churn of Lockjaw and
a darkly winding Burden Of Proof.

GAVIN MARTIN

SAM RICHARDS

SHARON OCONNELL

FULL TIME HOBBY

LAURA
J MARTIN
On The
Never Never

REVELATIONS
Simon Tong on the bare bones
of The Magnetic Norths new LP

SHAPE

Merseyside prog pixie


plays it straight(er)
two amiably
7/10 After
otherworldly outings,
Liverpudlian flute-looper Laura J Martin finds
her Care Bear fortress under attack on her third
LP. Pieced together in Nashville with bits of
Lambchop, Silver Jews and The Jesus Lizard,
On The Never Never turns its sad-unicorn eyes
on the woes of an increasingly homogenised
world, but paradoxically is Martins most
conventional offering to date. That said, Slapp
Happy samba Green Grey Grim and teethand-eyes-era Kate Bush oddity Its A Stumper
might prove distastefully quirky for anyone
whose tastes err on the vanilla side of Euros
Childs or Cate Le Bon. Fairy dust running low,
but much credit due.

Morrissey gets a
mariachi makeover
No matter what he does,
the love for Morrissey
Mexico remains
7/10 in
undimmed. Mexrrissey
are by no means the first Hispanic tribute act
for Manchesters most famous son, but theyre
the best by some distance, not least because
they dont come with a side order of kitsch.
This is the brainchild of Mexican Institute Of
Sounds Camilo Lara and Sergio Mendoza,
the sometime Calexico keyboardist, and their
debut album is a delightful, horn-infused love
letter to Morrisseys best solo work. Choice cuts
include Cada Da Es Domingo, a sweetly
atmospheric cover of Everyday Is Like
Sunday, and the cowbell-smothered
International Playgirl, in which Morrisseys
fading protagonist switches gender.

Before finalising the wistful sonic


landscapes of their second album, Prospect Of
Skelmersdale, The Magnetic North abandoned
their early recordings; a natural part of the
creative process according to Simon Tong,
formerly of The Verve, Gorillaz and The Good,
The Bad & The Queen. To destroy something
is as important as creating it in the first place,
he explains. Its about getting down to the
bare bones of a project, stripping the flesh
away until you find the core of the idea.
It was Hannah Peel who first suggested
that she, Tong and Erland Cooper focus
album number two around Tongs childhood
home, a dramatic change from Orkney, the
location that inspired their debut. I moved to
Skelmersdale aged 11 because my dad was a
Transcendental Meditation practitioner, says
Tong, and he wanted to live in a community
of like-minded people. Skelmersdale has no
immediate beauty. At first we thought we
would end up making a more gnarly, industrial,
fucked-up album, but the more we went on, the
more the underlying beauty came through.
With Tong currently working on Damon
Albarns Wonder.land production, Peel an
in-demand composer and solo artist, and
Cooper performing with his own band The
Carnival, time together as The Magnetic
North is limited. Its a complicated triangle,
says Tong. We try not to think how it works.
Its like fumbling around in the dark at times
and there are frictions, but they are healthy
ones. We know where each others strengths
lie, the more we work together.

FIONA STURGES

GAVIN MARTIN

JIM WIRTH

MEXRRISSEY
No Manchester
COOKING VINYL

76 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

WICHITA

BOB MOULD
Patch The Sky
MERGE

Mould never sleeps:


Sugar daddy still
on form
His best and
record of
8/10 liveliest
the millennium, Bob
Moulds 2014 outing Beauty & Ruin caused
a stir not least since he had clearly got
his Hsker D-era flying-V guitar out of
storage. Hopes of the hardcore Beatles
reforming have been dashed since, but
their energy courses through Moulds 11th
solo record proper. Bereavements and
break-ups overshadowed its conception,
but Patch The Sky wears its darkness
lightly, Hold On, Hands Are Tied and
Losing Time best exemplifying Moulds
brilliant if familiar combination of tears
and tinnitus. No other pony does his one
trick half as well.
JIM WIRTH

NADA SURF
You Know Who
You Are
CITY SLANG

NYC powerpop
masters in peak
form on eighth LP
20 years under their
8/10 With
belts, and former GBV
guitarist Doug Gillard fully integrated into the
line-up, Nada Surf have their Byrds/Big Starrooted sound totally locked in, and You Know
Who You Are is a smart, dynamic effort that
breaks some new ground. Framing the record
are the surging, anthemic Cold To See Clear, a
showcase for Matthew Caws boyish, yearning
tenor, and the jingle-jangling, harmony-laced
Victorys Yours, one of two sharply drawn
Dan Wilson co-writes. The biggest departures
are the pummelling New Bird, the loping,
Stones-y Animal and the delectable Gold
Sounds, a motorik churner la Wilcos
Spiders (Kidsmoke).
BUD SCOPPA

New Albums
dynamic and versatile singer, he seemed
revitalised. The album was the richest and most
diverse collection of songs hed composed to date.
The stalwart country rock of so many great
Richmond Fontaine tracks was
largely intact, but there were glorious
SLEEVE
NOTES
country-soul excursions that Boone
essayed with a panache way beyond
Produced by:
Vlautins faltering range.
John Morgan Askew
Talking to Uncut when the album
Recorded at:
came out, Willy was adamant,
Flora Recording
however, that we hadnt heard the
And Playback and
last of Richmond Fontaine, that hed
Scenic Burrows, both
written a new batch of songs for the
Portland, Oregon
band, who were even then rehearsing
Personnel: Willy
them. Which brings us to You Cant
Vlautin (vocals,
Go Back If Theres Nothing To Go Back
guitar), Sean Oldham
To, whose release has been preceded
(drums), Dan Eccles
by the news that it will be their last.
(lead guitar, piano),
As such, its a more poignant epitaph
Dave Harding, John
to their fine career than the dour
Askew (guitars),
and sometimes impenetrable
Freddy Trujillo (bass),
The High Country. Theres a lot of
Jenny Conlee-Drizos
familiar heartache here on songs like
(keyboards), Paul
Wake Up Ray, about a marriage
Brainard (pedal
coming desperately apart in a small
steel, trumpet)
Montana town; it could be a prequel
to the tale of the young wife making
a run for it in The Oil Rigs At Night, a highlight
of Colfax. We also immediately recognise the abject
runaways of Three Brothers Rolled Into Town,
the flat-broke cowboys of Whitey And Me, the
hell-bent drunks of Lets Hit One More Place and
the desperate husband of A Night In The City,
whose fevered instrumental climax recalls
4 Walls from Thirteen Cities.
Everyone in these songs is afraid, scared of the
pasts that haunt them, fearful of a future that holds
nothing but woe, frightened, on the outstanding
Dont Skip Out On Me, of being abandoned, left
behind, waking up and finding everyone gone,
dead or disappeared, leaving nothing behind apart
from an anguished vacancy. Pedal steel, electric
guitar and keyboards mesh plaintively here in a
forlorn matrix. Elsewhere, theres the feeling that
DECOR
Vlautins used the opportunity of a final outing
with Richmond Fontaine to revisit some of the
Americana heroes poignant valedictory album. By Allan Jones
characters from earlier albums.
I Cant Black It Out If I Wake Up And Remember
and I Got Off The Bus, for instance, could be about
with Richmond Fontaine. Willy was a prizeRICHMOND
the dismal loser who lit out for California on Post To
winning novelist by then, his books carrying eyeFONTAINE DID the
Wire returning now to a largely derelict hometown
catching endorsements from George Pelecanos
orphaned Americana
he no longer recognises, once-familiar buildings
and Donna Tartt. A new career as a full-time writer
thing better than
burned down or demolished, the family and friends
plausibly beckoned. Instead, Vlautin formed a new
anyone on 2004s Post
he left behind all gone, every street full of awful,
band, The Delines, the songs on their 2014 album,
To Wire, an album
inhospitable memories. I know what you abandon
Colfax, written as a showcase for the terrific voice of
that visited the unlit
dies and what you leave leaves you, too, Vlautin
Amy Boone, singer with Austins The Damnations.
places where people
sings on the latter song, a hymn to the lost as good
Willys own frail voice is a limited thing, marvellous
end up when theyre
as anything hes ever written.
on a certain kind of song; writing for a more
abandoned and adrift.
9/10 Youd be inclined to
call it a career high if
the records that followed werent just as good. The
were writing your last songs for the band.
Fitzgerald (2005), Thirteen Cities (2007) and We Used
I wasnt thinking about that so much at rst, but
To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River (2009)
it did sink into the fabric of the songs. A lot of the
were similarly vivid examples of the brilliantly
record is about the age were at and how a lot of
Willy
Vlautin
pared-down storytelling that had become
our harder-living friends are beginning to fall
songwriter Willy Vlautins speciality, his songs
Why is this Richmond Fontaines
apart. Were at the age where you start having to
across these albums unflinching narratives about
last record?
pay for the way youve lived. I was thinking of all
the washed-up, lonely and hopeless.
When [guitarist] Dave Harding
that and also the idea of coming home. When
Willys world in these songs was full of suicidal
moved to Denmark ater The
youve nished looking around or you fail too
drunks, beat-up wives, teenage runaways, down-atHigh Country, we were stopped
many times, you come home.
heel drifters, degenerate gamblers on endless losing
in our tracks. We were worn out
streaks, threadbare hustlers. The kind of people, in
as well. Dave was gone, we werent quite a band
You also revisit characters from earlier albums.
other words, who have to check their own pulse from
any more and everyone went their own way. But
I think so. The heart of our early songs was in
time to time to make sure theyre not dead, whose
we didnt want The High Country to be our last
Reno where I grew up. Over the years, the
lives or whats left of them have become as stricken
record. So when we got back together, we tried
characters in them drited all over looking for a
as the kind of country songs no-one wants to hear
as hard as we could and we got lucky. We all feel
place to land. Now theyre done driting and
any more because nobody wants to feel that sad.
more than great about it, so it seemed like the
coming home. Maybe theres nothing let there,
The bands hot streak only cooled with 2011s The
right place to stop.
but its where they started and where theyll end.
High Country, an austere song cycle whose bleak
That also made sense to me in terms of our
outlook carried with it a hint of finality, the sense
It must have been strange knowing that you
career. INTERVIEW: ALLAN JONES
that Willy had reached the end of a particular road

RICHMOND FONTAINE
You Cant Go Back If Theres
Nothing To Go Back To

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

77

New Albums
PINKSHINY
ULTRABLAST
Grandfeathered

WILLIE NELSON
Summertime:
Willie Nelson
Sings Gershwin
SONY LEGACY

POLIA
United Crushers
MOM + POP/
MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES

CLUB AC30

The old outlaw rides


down the classics
first dipped into the
8/10 Nelson
Great American Songbook
on 1978s Stardust, which included a version of
Someone To Watch Over Me. Almost 40 years
on, he revisits the song plus 10 other Gershwin
greats, his seasoned, mahogany croon tailormade for such an exercise. His typically
idiosyncratic phrasing displays a wonderfully
cavalier disregard for conventional balladry
as he sings all around the beat. The swinging,
jazz-country arrangements are perfect, too,
hitching the polished, romantic sophistication
of the songs to a down-home, rootsy bonhomie
that draws comparison with Dylans
reinterpretations of the Sinatra songbook
on 2015s Shadows In The Night.

Russian nu-gazers put


new shine on vintage
fuzz-punk sound
the shoegazing revival
7/10 As
gathers momentum with
Ride, MBV, Slowdive and Lush all active again,
Saint Petersburg dream-pop noiseniks
Pinkshinyultrablast are already ahead of the
curve. Their second album in 12 months is
densely layered with drones, shudders and
super-heavy effects-pedal dynamics, all adorned
with singer Lyubov Solovevas tinselly vocalese
reveries. Grandfeathered is no great progression
from last years Everything Else Matters, but
there is a genre-defying richness and depth to
tunes like I Catch You Napping, which sounds
like Sigur Rs wielding a chainsaw made of
diamonds, or the title tracks melding of fissile
effects-pedal crackle with Afropop guitar lines.

Minneapolis electropop act championed by


Jay Z comes into its own
Polias third
8/10 Though
outing bears traces of the
swirly dream-pop influences that added murk
and mystery to 2011s Give Up The Ghost and
2013s Shulamith, United Crushers establishes
a more muscular sensibility for the American
quartet. Largely shorn of the pitch-shifting
and Auto-Tuning tactics she once preferred,
Channy Leaneaghs voice takes its rightful
place at the forefront of a beefed-up sound
that synthesizes 90s trip-hop, 00s DFA-style
dance-rock and 21st-century R&B. Yet for
all the force of single Wedding, the postPortishead balladry of Lately and Kind
may be the best showcase for Leaneaghs
considerable gifts.

NIGEL WILLIAMSON

STEPHEN DALTON

JASON ANDERSON

JEB LOY
NICHOLS
Ya Smell Me?
CITY COUNTRY CITY

Comely mini-album
from Wales-based
Midwesterner
Nothing if not eclectic,
7/10 Wyoming-born
Nichols
has made an art of assembling various musical
modes folk, blues, reggae, country, soul and
merrily fashioning his own hybrids, over the
course of an itinerant career. This six-track
mini-LP builds on the infectious groove of
Countrymusicdisco45 (from 2012 precursor
The Jeb Loy Nichols Special), with mellow
swamp-funk grooves and a pinch of
psychedelia. Regret boasts a great trumpet
line; the smouldering Pretty Lonesome
sounds akin to a Dr John concoction circa
Gris-Gris; My Mistake eases along like a less
stubbly JJ Cale. All of which augurs well for a
full-length effort, due sometime in the spring.
ROB HUGHES

EDWARD
PENFOLD
Caulkhead
STOLEN BODY

Strange pop-psych from


off the English coast
Although much of
is founded on
7/10 Caulkhead
a principle of disjointedly,
determinedly English, rough-edged psychedelia,
like the Syd Barrett-influenced Up Down
or the melancholically melodic If You Like,
Edward Penfolds avowedly otherworldly
qualities also see him deliver gorgeous
curios like the thick, plucking instrumental
Hogwash and the tape-manipulation drone of
PPS. Penfolds deadpan vocals add to the odd
atmosphere, with the title track a caulkhead is
a native of the Isle Of Wight, where Penfold was
born sounding like 1950s self-deprecating
music hall as imagined by The Kinks and
confirming the generally lugubrious quality
of this arresting, unusual album.
PETER WATTS

78 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

WER E
NEW
HERE

Edward
Penfold

Edward Penfold grew up on the Isle


Of Wight, and although he now lives in
Bristol, the island still influences his music.
Caulkhead, his debut, is an LP of dislocated
psych-pop with its title taken from the
nickname for an Isle Of Wight native.
The 1970 festival was up the road from
where I lived, so my dad would tell me stories
of people camping in his garden, says
Penfold. That gave me a sense of pride and
certainly turned me on to a lot of good music.
Mercury-nominated locals The Bees were
another inspiration. That changed what I
thought was possible, he says. Not only is
the nature of how it was recorded inspiring,
the songs are great. It takes from dub,
tropiclia, jazz, psychedelia it taught me to
not feel restricted.
This sense of eclecticism is evident in
Caulkhead, which was recorded on the island
with the help of Bristol acts such as Taos
Humm, Factotum, Velcro Hooks and Dom
Mitchison. Penfold sings and plays flute, guitar
and piano. He works within the framework
of pop, but plays with time, both in terms of
where he draws influence from and how the
song unfolds. If its disorientating, thats the
plan. I think its important to steal anything
and everything that you find exciting, he
says. Then you throw it all together and hope
it becomes confused enough to give the
impression of something original. PETER WATTS

ROBERT
POLLARD
Of Course You Are
FIRE AMERICA

More pop craftsmanship


from the Guided By
Voices mainman
his 24th solo album,
7/10 On
the Guided By Voices man
shows that he still knows how to cobble together
a sturdy, well-constructed song. He can rock
hard if necessary: Promo Brunette is a
deliciously chaotic sludge-punk belter, while
opener My Daughter Yes She Knows mixes
a Crazy Horse crunch with a Big Star fragility.
But, together with producer and multiinstrumentalist Nick Mitchell, Pollard is
convincing in any context, from the heartwrenching Beatles pop of I Can Illustrate to
the abrupt, REM-like Little Pigs. Best of all
might be Come And Listen, where Pollards
religious imagery is matched by suitably
baroque strings. A true craftsman at his best.
JOHN LEWIS

THE PRETTIOTS
Funs Cool
ROUGH TRADE

Young New York female


duo make fetching
naughty/cute debut
With their tuneful,
delivered,
7/10 tartly
ukulele-spiced,
incident-filled vignettes, Kay Kasparhauser
and Lulu Landolfi bring hipster spin to
their hometowns post-girl group tradition.
Kasparhauser specialises in candid, funny
confessionals typified by Boys (That I Dated
In High School). The cavalcade of past and
imagined lovers may be easy targets, but
with the melodic surety of Dreamboy
and the hand-slapping clarion calls of the
likes of Stabler, their potshots ring clear
and true. Peachy-keen harmonies, pop
smarts and salacious detail make a simple
but effective combination. The immediate
future looks bright.
GAVIN MARTIN

New Albums
PRIMAL SCREAM
Chaosmosis

RIHANNA
Anti

IGNITION

WESTBURY ROAD/ROC NATION

ESPERANZA
SPALDING
Emilys D+Evolution
CONCORD

The Scream Team turn


out a wobbly 11th
Few bands have gone on
and off the boil quite so
as Primal Scream,
5/10 often
a group whose music
sometimes sounds like Gods gift, other times
a dogs dinner. The title Chaosmosis a book
by radical French philosopher Flix Guattari,
because of course it is is perhaps appropriate
for a jumbled record that veers from
Screamadelica nostalgia (Trippin On Your
Love) to wobbly Bontempi soul (I Can
Change) to hushed acid-folk (Private Wars)
without ever quite finding a sound of its own.
Its perhaps most memorable on Where
The Light Gets In, on which Bobby Gillespie
and outsider-pop starlet Sky Ferreira duet on
a feisty electro-pop tailor-made for pogoing
on sticky floors.

Dark and dismal,


the Bajan singers
eighth is her best yet
Rihannas 2009 album,
R, opened with
8/10 Rated
horror movie samples,
letting listeners know darkness awaited. Her
long-awaited eighth has no signposting, and
seems a true reflection of an artist, not a pop
cypher. Antis production is dank, haunted, and
offers few singles Work is grimy dancehall
laced around an Aphex Twin-like beat but
instead lets the Bajan singers extraordinary
weed-burned voice blaze through romantic
desolation (Desperado), via a cover of Tame
Impalas Same Old Mistakes through to a
cinematic resolution, with the cheesecakey soul
of Love On The Brain and the drunk, desirous
Higher. One of the most coherent and
surprising big-ticket pop albums in years.

Grammy-winning
bassist/singer teams up
with Tony Visconti for
art-rock statement
8/10 an
The varied works of
this Portland-born bassist and singer have
suggested a giant talent that spills out of jazz
into Brazil, R&B, music theatre and even thrash
metal. This semi-autobiographical concept
album pushes her deep into art-rock territory
Judas and Noble Nobles dreamily evoke
Joni Mitchells work with Jaco Pastorius,
while Earth To Heaven fortifies early
80s Kate Bush. Co-producer Tony Viscontis
paw prints are all over the precise, metallic
rock of Good Lava, the ethereal soul of
Rest In Pleasure and the demented version
of Willy Wonkas I Want It Now, with each
recalling a different Bowie era.

LOUIS PATTISON

LAURA SNAPES

JOHN LEWIS

QLUSTER
Echtzeit

SPECTRES
Dead

ROBYN
SHERWELL
Robyn Sherwell

BUREAU B

BIRDLAND

SONIC CATHEDRAL

Krautrock colossus
endless tinkering
Forty-five years
after Clusters debut,
kingpin
6/10 kosmische
Hans-Joachim Roedelius
continues his exploration at the age of 81 in the
rebooted form of Qluster, his trio with relative
whippersnappers Onnen Bock and Armin Metz
(both 41), whove already released five albums
of meditative electronics and piano pieces since
2011. The title of Echtzeit, their sixth, translates
as real time and presumably refers to the
improvised nature of the material. Comprising
shifting layers of ghostly tones and drifting
electronics, these 10 numbers unfurl serenely
but unremarkably, typified by the ponderous
Auf Der Lichtung. A lack-Qluster addition
to the Roedelius catalogue, perhaps, but
fascinating in its own way.

Guernsey singersongwriters
painstaking and
debut
7/10 heartfelt
Unaffected intimacy is a
tricky posture to achieve, but its one Sherwell
attains with easy grace throughout this stylish
mission statement. Pale Lung is a key
example delicious double-tracked vocals,
methodical chord changes accommodating
lateral moves and meditative rapture. Producer
David Kosten (Bat For Lashes) proves an artful
accomplice, with the subtle electro/acoustic
instrumentation giving the circular repetition
of Broken added heft. Whether pivoting
around glassy keys (Tightropes) or a solitary
guitar figure (Portrait), her elegant tunes
evince thoughtfulness and soulfulness in
equal measure.

Power-sander
remix for abrasive
nu-gazers debut
A more menacing
Bloody Valentine,
7/10 My
North Devons Spectres
made a huge splash in a surprisingly deep
sub-genre pond with glowering 2015 debut
Dying. Not content with having foisted a
daunting, grey racket on the world, they
invited like-minded souls to kill our songs
for Dead. Thus cosmic Mancunians Hookworms
twist The Sky Of All Places into a Mary
Chain approximation of Metal Machine Music
and Factory Floor make desiccated disco
mincemeat of Sink, while Loop guru Robert
Hampson, Death In Vegas Richard Fearless,
Rides Andy Bell and Mogwais Stuart
Braithwaite demonstrate the oldies
appetite for deconstruction.

PIERS MARTIN

GAVIN MARTIN

JIM WIRTH

MAX RICHTER
Sleep Remixes
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON

SNARKY PUPPY
Family Dinner
Volume Two

CARTER
TANTON
Jettison The Valley

GROUND UP MUSIC/
UNIVERSAL

WESTERN VINYL

2015s eight-hour epic


reworked by Mogwai,
Clark and more
Although Sleep was the
best-selling
6/10 worlds
classical release last year,
this Bedford-bred composers queasily beautiful
pieces have always had as much in common
with post-rock or electronica as with more
traditional forms. The artists here reworking
Sleep come from those worlds Mogwai graft
beats and arpeggiated synth to the liquid
Path 5, and Clark adds blown-out drones to
the same piece. Elsewhere, Jrgen Mller tears
Dream 3 into glitchy loops, while Marconi
Union move Dream 13 into new age pastures.
Even at their best, however, these versions
feel removed from their source material, the
earthbound treatments dragging the delicate
Sleep blinking into the harsh light of day.

Jazz-fusion collective
welcome David Crosby
other vocal guests
5/10 and
As this curious jazz
collective from Brooklyn move from an internet
cult into an arena-conquering phenomenon,
theyre attracting big-name guests. The problem
is that everything sounds better when Snarky
Puppy themselves take a back seat. They barely
intrude on David Crosbys lovely Somebody
Home and keep things simple on Susana Bacas
Molino Molero. Elsewhere, their heady brew
overpowers more subtle flavours. Laura Mvulas
interesting dialogue with Michelle Willis on
harmonium and Appalachian singer Becca
Stevens spartan duet with Swedish folkies
Vsen are both suffocated by Snarky Puppys
slightly indigestible brand of funky fusion.

Baltimore native goes


to England and writes
a California song-cycle
Tanton was
8/10 Carter
California dreamin when
he penned the nine songs of this self-made
LP; like fellow mid-Atlantic native Jonathan
Wilson, Tanton evidences an uncanny command
of the canyon/desert milieu, and hes blessed
with a voice as pure as Glenn Freys. Two fetching
female voices bring a soft-focus glow to the
linchpin songs on this incandescent album, as
Sharon Van Etten harmonises on Twenty-Nine
Palms and Through The Garden Gates, while
Tantons frequent collaborator Marissa Nadler
sings on the title track. But hes achingly alone in
the gorgeous The Long Goodbye, which makes
inspired use of the Chandler-cum-Altman classic
to recount the final moments of a faded romance.

TOM PINNOCK

JOHN LEWIS

BUD SCOPPA

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

79

New Albums

SLEEVE
NOTES

THE
CORAL
Distance Inbetween
IGNITION

Hoylakes finest return with their


heaviest album yet. By John Lewis
UNTIL THE 1930s,
for nearly half a
century there was
a parliamentary
constituency in
Liverpool that chose to
ignore the prevailing
British political trends
and returned an Irish
Nationalist MP
8/10 to Westminster.
This regional
bloodymindedness has long been a fixture of the
citys music scene. When punk hit, Liverpools
hipsters were listening to baritone crooners such
as Jim Morrison and Scott Walker; at the height
of synth pop, Scousers dug deep into the jangly
guitars of 1960s psychedelia. As the 1980s wore on,
Merseysides young football fans were wearing
flares and listening to Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa.
The Coral are reluctant to see themselves as a
Liverpool band theyre from Hoylake, across the
Mersey at the tip of the Wirral but they seem to
embody the sonic otherness of this weird maritime
city state. Even when they released their first album
in 2002 as teenagers who still lived with their
parents they were gleefully citing contrary
influences such as Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis
and The Four Freshmen to bewildered journalists.
Now, on their first album in six years, their
interests in freak folk, doo-wop and skiffle have
been replaced by other influences the sludge rock
of Black Sabbath, the trance metal of Hawkwind,
the metrical beats of Krautrock. Assisting them in
this change is the slightly wayward guitar playing of
Paul Molloy, formerly of kindred spirits The Zutons,
who joined the band halfway through the LP to
replace guitarist Lee Southall, currently on hiatus.
The band have still been active throughout this
apparent furlough. In 2014 they quietly released

80 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Producedby:Richard
Turvey and The Coral
and-potatoes heavy boogie numbers
The Curse Of Love, a lost album
Recorded at:
the bubblegum freakbeat of Holy
recorded in 2006, while most of the
Parr Street Studios,
Revelation, the 12-bar stomp of
band have been active in each others
Liverpool
Fear Machine the drums sound
recent solo projects James Skellys
Personnel includes:
fantastic wild and thunderous, yet
backing band The Intenders featured
James Skelly (vocals,
also tight and hypnotic.
most of The Coral at some point, as has
rhythm guitar), Paul
As youd imagine, the band still
The Serpent Power (a project led by
Duy
(bass),
Nick
hit some of those Liverpudlian
drummer Ian Skelly and Molloy).
Power (keyboards),
touchstones. Chasing The Tail Of A
Distance Inbetween is very much the
Ian Skelly (drums), Paul Dream is a sped-up ringer for Pink
hardest and heaviest thing that The
Molloy (lead guitar)
Floyds Set The Controls For The Heart
Coral have ever put down on tape.
Of The Sun, based around the same
The opening tracks set out their stall.
pounding tom-tom gallop. That Scouse love of
Connector is a wonderfully hypnotic three-chord
baritone crooners is never far on the dreamy,
groove, based around a machine-like beat and some
piano-led title track, James Skellys croon strays
pitch-shifted Bollywood strings. White Bird is
into Scott Walker territory; among the woozy organs
tremendous an insistent, pulsating Motownand grungy guitars of Its You, he could be Jim
meets-Krautrock beat topped by spooky Mellotrons
Morrison. Miss Fortune, meanwhile, sounds like
and wobbly guitars.
a potted history of Merseybeat a Teardrops-ish
The band have always been good on imaginative
motorik beat, a Bunnymen-like melody and a terrific
vocal harmonies, orchestrated by bassist Paul
backwards Taxman guitar solo from Molloy.
Duffy, and this album is no exception. On White
On paper, stripped back to its constituent
Bird, or the drumless folk-style song She Runs The
elements, it sounds somewhat derivative, an
River, or the one-chord boogie of Million Eyes,
exercise in retro box-ticking. But the garbled way
the harmonies initially sound like Crosby, Stills
in which The Coral piece these disparate elements
& Nash or America, but start to become slightly
together creates an odd, timeless and cosmic music,
sinister, using the kind of intervals you associate
buzzing with energy, and very much their own.
with Gregorian chants. And even on the more meat-

James Skelly
How much do you see yourself
as part of any Liverpool sound?
Well, when we started we were
denitely inuenced by stu like
the Bunnymen and Shack. But
were kinda halfway between
Liverpool and Wales you can pretty much see
the Welsh coast from Hoylake. And a big part of
us was just as inuenced by Welsh bands like
Gorkys and Super Furry Animals.
Is analogue recording important to you?
Were not fetishistic about it at all. When its
a really busy recording, with loads of layers of
instruments, digital recording is way better. But,
for this album, we really wanted that soggy drum
sound you get on tape. Digital can be a bit dry,
but we wanted the drums to really bleed and
soak into everything else.

The harmonies are weirder than usual here


Yeah, they sound quite complicated but oten
theyre much simpler than our usual harmonies
oten were just singing the root note and
maybe a th. Its a bit medieval, innit? Like
those medieval beards some of us have been
trying out lately, ha ha. Actually, I had an album
of Gregorian plainsong as a teenager. Maybe
thats rubbed o.
What influenced the change in direction?
Well, we were listening to stu like Can and
Hawkwind and Black Sabbath. But our inuences
are less about music; more about other stu.
Richard Yates books, particularly Revolutionary
Road, Alan Moore comics, and this amazing
American photographer called Gregory
Crewdson, who does these really beautifully lit
pictures of mundane streets. A lot of the lyrics
are inuenced by Mad Men the way youve got
something very straight on the surface thats
actually very dark. I love how someone like
Ian Curtis is able to be both domestic and
apocalyptic, all at once. INTERVIEW BY JOHN LEWIS

New Albums
VARIOUS
ARTISTS
George Fest: A
Night To Celebrate
The Music Of
George Harrison

TELEGRAM
Operator
GRAMGRAM

Cult Anglo-Welsh
upstarts winklepicker
glam debut
Skinny, handsome and
dressed in black,
7/10 usually
Telegrams retro jams
sound as archaic as their name. That theyve
called their debut Operator suggests theyve
twigged this, and to their credit the quartets
swaggering garage rock, stuffed with grit
and glam, has a certain edge, largely due to
frontman Mark Saunders Welsh-accented sneer
(the rest of the band are from London). His
raucous delivery and vibrant harmonies propel
the tremendous opening batch of Rule Number
One, Follow and Inside Out beyond the
indie landfill, and who knows, the boistrous
Taffy Come Home about a light-fingered
runaway could become Saunders Caerphillycrafted terrace chant.

Three-hour, 26-song
ode to the Quiet Beatle
This 2CD+DVD document of a September 2014
tribute show is faithful to the source material and
occasionally inspired. Showstoppers include an
electrifying Wah Wah from Strokes guitarist
Nick Valensi with Guns N Roses drummer Matt
Sorum; Black Rebel Motorcycle Clubs
Radiohead-like take on Art Of Dying; Brian
Wilsons solemn My Sweet Lord; and a
disarming Handle With Care with Brandon
Flowers, Wayne Coyne, Britt Daniel, Weird Al
Yankovic and Big Black Deltas Jonathan Bates.
Co-producer Dhani Harrisons uncanny vocal
and physical resemblance to his dad brings both
gravitas and elation to the proceedings.

Breakcore pioneer
going modular
melancholy
8/10 and
Aaron Funks
productions as Venetian Snares often court
freneticism, sometimes at the cost of poetics.
Hes a great producer, and his breakcore and
drillnbass sides are thrilling and full of
invective, but theres another side to Funk, a
melancholic melodicist shielded by the brittle
brutalism. On Traditional Synthesizer Music,
an album of real-time improvisations on a
modular synth, he lets the patch bay weep,
even as the rhythms stutter and collide. The
result, particularly on beautiful tunes like
Everything About You Is Special, is one of
his most engrossing albums yet, a gorgeously
unsettling collection of itchy electronics.

PIERS MARTIN

BUD SCOPPA

JON DALE

THAO & THE


GET DOWN
STAY DOWN
A Man Alive

HOT RECORDS LTD/VAGRANT

7/10

TIMESIG/PLANET MU

REVELATIONS

JOE VOLK
Happenings
And Killings

Waco Brother Jon Langford talks


Small Faces and late-capitalism

DOMINO

GLITTERHOUSE

Austere alt.folk with


Portishead connections
Recently relocated from
to Switzerland,
6/10 Bristol
folk-noir singer-songwriter
Joe Volk retains his long association with
Portishead and their musical family on this new
solo album. Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley both
had a hand in the production of Happenings
And Killings, which mostly couches Volks husky
falsetto sighs in fingerpicking bedsit guitar,
light-touch electronics, doleful woodwind and
minimal harmonica. He may be a little too fond
of tastefully sombre ruminations, but Volk comes
alive on more expansive tracks like These
Feathers Count and The Thief Of Ideas, which
cloak Bert Jansch-level acoustic austerity in jazzy
syncopation and spooked droning reminiscent
of Radiohead. Or, indeed, Portishead.

The father-daughter
relationship artfully
8/10 dissected
The San Francisco singersongwriter Thao Nguyen doesnt pull any
punches while tackling familial relationships
on her fourth album. If she doesnt quite reach
the foul-mouthed fury of Martha Wainwrights
Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole, this is
nonetheless a visceral, candid and thrillingly
propulsive depiction of her efforts to work
through her fathers abandonment when she
was a child. She does this via an engaging stew
of sounds, from the heartbreaking soul of
Guts (You know Im so easy to find/You wont
come get your girl) and the syncopated synthpop of Departure to the laconic indie chug of
Nobody Dies. Terrific stuff.

Techno vets best since


Beaucoup Fish
7/10 1999s
After a sequence of rather
underwhelming albums, Underworlds
soundtrack for the 2012 Olympics opening
ceremony evidently revitalised these grandees of
UK techno. Its taken another four years, though,
for them to artfully rechannel that energy into a
new record. Barbara Barbara makes explicit the
bands influence, as well as their core strengths.
Low Burn, discreet and martially relentless,
could sit beside younger noiseniks Fuck Buttons or
Underworlds own Dubnobasswithmyheadman,
while If Rah echoes early LCD Soundsystem a
reminder that Karl Hyde, in bug-eyed stream-ofconsciousness mode, may be the missing link
between Mark E Smith and James Murphy.

Weve always been a very straightforward,


Friday-night rocknroll band, notes leader
Jon Langford, discussing the Waco Brothers
in the light of their new record, Going Down
In History. This album was recorded in about
half an hour, with little or no preparation, and
I must say its much easier to summon up the
rebel spirit under those conditions.
A roaring, levitating, soul-ripping cover
of the Small Faces All Or Nothing, sung
by Dean Schlabowske and dedicated to Ian
McLagan, demonstrates the Wacos undying
affection for the group. I would text him
[McLagan], says Langford, Welsh founder of
The Mekons and now long based in Chicago,
and ask how he was doing, and he would say
things like Im shitting in tall grass! or First
rounds on me. We miss him very much. Dean
sings the hell out of this, because he obviously
identifies with the protagonist.
Had About Enough, meanwhile, is the
nexus, the group taking on the worlds,
economic, political and cultural tensions in a
two-and-a-half minute frenzy worthy of The
Clash, circa 77. In the pressure cooker of
late-capitalism, Langford surmises, I believe
were all on a hair-trigger and desperate
measures will need to be taken.

Sometime Mekon
Jon Langfords neverquintet, in
8/10 say-die
full-attack mode
The Waco Brothers first album of originals
since 2005s Freedom And Weep is a blistering
testament to social sagacity, political
pointedness and artistic perseverance.
A soaring, Ian McLagan-dedicated Small
Faces cover, All Or Nothing, is the spiritual
centrepiece of the set, but every song arrives
with crisp melodies, burning guitars and
impassioned vocals. Receiver is a hard
look at a society held prisoner by technology;
the title track nips hard at times dictates.
The best track, however, comes late, with
the crackling Had Enough channelling
the spirit of Joe Strummer.

JOHN MULVEY

LUKE TORN

LUKE TORN

FIONA STURGES

UNDERWORLD
Barbara Barbara,
We Face A
Shining Future
UNDERWORLDLIVE.COM/
CAROLINE

PAUL BEATY

VENETIAN
SNARES
Traditional
Synthesizer Music

STEPHEN DALTON

WACO
BROTHERS
Going Down
In History
BLOODSHOT

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

81

New Albums
ANDREW
WEATHERALL
Convenanza

JEFF
WOOTTON
The Way
The Light

ROTTERS GOLF CLUB

SONIC CATHEDRAL

A wild ride into the heart


of guerrilla dub-funk
Andrew Weatherall gets
attention for his role
7/10 more
as a cultural catalyst:
understandably so, given his best-known music
is often his remixes (Primal Scream, My Bloody
Valentine, Saint Etienne). However, this
obscures the body of music hes made himself,
with groups such as Two Lone Swordsmen
and Sabres Of Paradise, or recently, with
Convenanza collaborator Nina Walsh.
Convenanza is only Weatheralls second
album, but it feels as if hes been making this
fantastic, moody music all his life dub effects
trail, smoke-like, across the stereo spectrum;
post-punk and agit-funk rhythms sleaze
from the speakers; Weatherall drawls over
tar-blackened guitar-noise.

21st-century
psychedelia
Manchester
7/10 from
over-achiever
After five years touring with Gorillaz and
collaborating with the likes of Massive Attack,
Noel Gallagher and Cans Damo Suzuki, this
twentysomething multi-instrumentalist has
struck out on his own with an impressive first
album. Given Woottons varied CV, its little
wonder that The Way The Light plays stylistic
hopscotch, from the lolloping baggy groove of
Venus and the stoner electronica of Sonic
Drips to the keening semi-acoustic folk
of So Lonely. While the album has its
longueurs The End is truly never-ending
Woottons musicianship here is inarguable
and his ambition quite dizzying.

Spirited psychedelic
investigation from
Parisian psych duo
While Yeti Lane derive
name from a
7/10 their
conflation of Amon Dl
IIs Krautrock meisterwerk Yeti and The Beatles
Penny Lane, its certainly easier to hear the
influence of the former in their voluminous
white-outs. LAurore finds Cdric Benyoucef
and Charlie Boyer pursuing a rawer, more
improvisatory approach than on albums
prior, a questing nature that leads them from
the bereft desert blues of Dlicat to the
rugged stoner chug of Crystal Sky. Actual
songcraft can take a back seat, though,
Benyoucefs wan vocals on Good Words Gone
feeling like a mere canvas over which gnarly
guitar and whooshing analogue synth
erupt with volcanic potency.

JON DALE

FIONA STURGES

LOUIS PATTISON

WHITE DENIM
Stiff
DOWNTOWN

Texan kings of recordcollector ramalam


triumph again
A 50 per cent switch in
(guitarist Austin
8/10 personnel
Jenkins and drummer
Joshua Block having left to capitalise on their
work with soulman Leon Bridges) doesnt appear
to have much affected the runaway momentum
of White Denim. Like its predecessor, 2013s
Corsicana Lemonade, Stiff flirts with mainstream
etiquette Ethan Johns produces before
resorting to the sort of hyperdriven, math-tinged
choogles that have served the band so well over
six albums. The Allmans and the Minutemen
remain touchstones, but there are new
influences thrown into the mix: the high-tensile
funk-rock of Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah); or Real Deal
Momma, roughly Last Train To Clarksville
reimagined by the Sir Douglas Quintet.
JOHN MULVEY

WILD NOTHING
Life Of Pause
BELLA UNION

JOHN BARRETT

YETI LANE
LAurore

Jack Tatum trades


dreaminess for drive
on Wild Nothings
third album
its cheeky
8/10 With
repurposing of the
polyrhythms favoured by the American
composer for whom its named, Life Of Pauses
opener, Reichpop, is a bold indication of Jack
Tatums widening ambitions for Wild Nothing.
Whereas his 2010 debut, Gemini, was steeped
in the chill-wave and dream-pop aesthetic
then prevalent among US indie upstarts,
Life Of Pause demonstrates a more playful
and propulsive approach. Theres no lack of
reverb-drenched reveries, but new songs like
Japanese Alice, on which Tatum divides his
Creation-ist sympathies between Christine
and Feed Me With Your Kiss, benefit from
a greater sense of forward momentum.
JASON ANDERSON

82 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

SYMPATHY FOR VINYL

REVELATIONS
Nina Walsh on her collaboration
with Andrew Weatherall

Is it actually possible to control chaos?,


Nina Walsh reflects, as were discussing
the working methods shes developed with
long-term collaborator Andrew Weatherall.
I prefer to think that we embrace chaos
and see where it leads us.
Walsh is an integral part of Weatheralls
new album, Convenanza, though it seems the
dividing lines between their various projects
are increasingly fluid. It started with a drone
let over from recording the Michael Smith
project, she recalls, connecting Convenanza
with the Unreal City book and album set from
2013. Andrew laid down a vocal idea, I added
a guitar part, pressed the red button and the
following year saw Convenanza form.
The pair have also recently found time to
work together on the properly hauntological
Woodleigh Research Facility, whose The
Phoenix Suburb (And Other Stories) was one
of 2015s sleeper gems: [It] came about from
Andrew and I noodling around on various
machines, hunting through lost archives and
excavating abandoned tape experiments,
digitising them and reassembling the sounds.
While Walshs current run with Weatherall
suggests shes a natural collaborator, it
shouldnt overshadow her solo music,
including underrated electronica project
C-Pij, and 2009s beautifully eclectic Bright
Lights & Filthy Nights. When the time is
right, no doubt I will record another one,
she concludes. It took me 10 years to get
Bright Lights & Filthy Nights out, though,
so dont hold your breath!
JON DALE

PETE YORN
Arranging Time
CAPITOL

LA-based New Jersey


native finally breaks
the first-album curse
Since releasing his
debut album,
8/10 definitive
musicforthemorningafter,
in 2001, Pete Yorn has alternated between
trying to top that cult classic and escape its
shadow. Yorns sixth LP comprises a dozen
collaborations with players/producers hes
worked with over the past 15 years. Current
touring drummer Scott Seiver helms three
tracks, including the weightless yet dense
opener, Summer Was A Day, while original
producer R Walt Vincent reappears on the
churning In Your Head, the agitated
stomper Screaming At The Setting Sun,
the culminating This Fire and three others.
The gambit works: Arranging Time functions as
both a means of closure and a creative reboot.
BUD SCOPPA

YUCK
Stranger Things
MAME

Tender and tuneful


third from London
neo-grungers
In a sense, it feels a
bit rich to call Yuck 90s
7/10 revivalists,
given that
their blend of candied tunefulness and scuzzy
guitar distortion has been an evergreen sound
since Dinosaur Jr stalked the earth. If their
third album doesnt exactly do anything new
in the field, it is undoubtedly well observed.
They kick off breathless and clattery, with
the one-two punch of Hold Me Closer and
Cannonball (not the Breeders song, but
not a million miles from The Breeders either).
But its not long until they settle into their
preferred sound, a languidly tuneful guitar-pop
that recalls Yo La Tengo (Swirling, As I Walk
Away) and, on the title track, Teenage Fanclub
at their most wistful.
LOUIS PATTISON

M WARD
More Rain
BELLA UNION

SARAH CASS

Swinging, sweetly affecting


eighth, with added vocal punch.
By Sharon OConnell
M WARDS CV is
almost as heavy on the
high-profile hook-ups
as it is the solo
recordings. Hes
released seven of those
since 1999, alongside
one Monsters Of Folk
album and five with
Zooey Deschanel as
8/10 She & Him. In addition,
there are countless
guest appearances for the likes of Bright Eyes, My
Morning Jacket, Jenny Lewis and Howe Gelb, plus
production credits for Lewis, Carlos Forster and,
most recently, Mavis Staples Livin On A High Note.
Small wonder, then, that the Portland-based
singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is
viewed as much in the light of his collaborations as
his independent albums. But his MO is hardly that
of a driven spotlight seeker; you get the impression
that if hes noticed at all, Ward doesnt give a damn.
The man certainly gets around, but theres been
a commonality in his choices since the rickety and
down-home, dust-covered alt.country of his solo
debut, Duet For Guitars # 2. Its hard to avoid the
word nostalgic in regard to the warmly intimate
and over-easy, Americana/folk pop that has become
his trademark, but hes no dogmatic revivalist.
Wards skill is to make what might otherwise seem
slight as She & Hims sugary retroism sometimes
does play as effortless, unself-conscious charm.
Despite the title, More Rain is framed as a shelter
from the troubled world, a place where uplift and
contentment reign, and navety is embraced. Its
telling that Ward plays his yesteryear references
jive, doo-wop, gospel, rocknroll, honky tonk
pretty straight. And lyrically, there isnt a single
knowing wink, not even on the swinging, barroom
gospel of Im Going Higher, where he croons, Lift
me high, so that I can see the dark shine beyond my
darkest day. The lack of ironic twist is both slightly
unsettling and hugely refreshing.
Vocals figure more strongly on More Rain than
usual, in that Wards familiar laid-back tone gets
a more expressive workout (the winding Slow
Driving Man and Cali-Mex reminiscence Girl
From Conejo Valley are standouts on that score)
and backing singers help shape the songs, rather
than just fill out spaces. As Ward told Uncut: The
idea was to rely on voice and vocal harmonies the
way street singers used their voices vocals as
horns and strings, etc. The record grew from there
and I replaced some vocal parts with actual
instruments, but thats the backbone of the record.
I normally rely on guitars to make all the drama.
Without abandoning his favourite decade,
on More Rain Ward winds back from 2012s
60s-focused A Wasteland Companion to the 50s,
and lets rip a little, with guests including Peter
Buck, KD Lang, Neko Case and The Secret Sisters.
Its a brief (12 tracks in under 40 minutes)
encapsulation of a particular worldview, all
unabashed romanticism and guileless honesty,
impeccably produced and pitched so up-close and
personal that on Phenomenon you can hear
Wards wet mouth on the mic. It opens with the
rumble of a (simulated) storm and the sound of
rain, out of which emerges Pirate Dial, a sweetly

SLEEVE
NOTES
Producedby:MWard
Recorded at: Type
Foundry and Blue
Rooms, Portland,
Oregon; ARC Studios,
Omaha, Nebraska
Personnel: M Ward
(guitars, vocals, piano,
keys, mandolin), Mike
Coykendall, Joey
Spampinato, Scott
McCaughey (bass),
Scott McPherson,
Mark Powers (drums,
perc), Mike Mogis
(pedal steel, Moog,
mandolin), Peter Buck
(guitar, mandolin), Paul
Brainard (trumpet,
pedal steel), Nathaniel
Walcott (flugelhorn),
Neko Case, KD Lang,
Susan Sanchez,
The Secret Sisters
(backing vocals)

spangled mix of acoustic guitar and


pedal steel ostensibly about trawling
the frequencies, although something
in Wards I can hear ya suggests
communication of a deeper kind is on
his mind. Next is Time Wont Wait
Up; it cuts some rug via a mix of sodashop jive, doo-wop and glam, into
which Ward slyly drops the hook from
Get It On. It seems he shelved his
original plan for an exclusively doowop set, but there are more than
residual traces. Im Listening (Childs
Theme) splices it with country-soul
languor and adds strings and
flugelhorn, while Little Baby,
featuring KD Lang, is almost a homage to The
Drifters. Elsewhere, there are nods to Elvis and

M Ward
How is More Rain your refuge from a troubled
America? Music has always been a refuge or
escape for me listening to it or making it. US
culture is sick and getting sicker, but art can help.
The title isnt just an environmental reference.
It comes from reading the New York Times frontpage stories every day. More rain is another
way of saying more bad news, but its meant
only to be a backdrop for the record. Im more
interested in the ways people transcend it. Thats
what every good story ever written has been
about, from Hamlet to The Hobbit.
What did Peter Buck et al bring? Im lucky to
have very talented musician friends; they are the

Bobby Darin, notes of mariachi,


Moog, mandolin and of Bucks
Rickenbacker, while the extended
list of band members reads like
a whos who of Americana and
alt.country/folk veterans.
Ward likes his cover versions.
Hes previously recorded songs by
Buddy Holly, Tony Martin, Bowie
(his reworking of Lets Dance is a
revelatory gem) and Daniel Johnston,
but here, its his beloved Beach Boys.
Youre So Good To Me opens with
the words Youre kinda small
and features a cheesily attenuated
lalalalala, but Wards in no way
laughing at the song hes a little in love with it. Its
that affection that makes More Rain hard to resist.

rain and sun that make songs and records grow.


I love recording their first instincts in the
studio, because you normally get something
unexpected that ends up becoming my favourite
part of the song.
What do you like about 50s rocknroll? A lot of
it is a waste of time signifying nothing, but a very
small amount of digging uncovers an obscure
James Brown or Chuck Berry song that quickly
becomes essential to living.
Phenomenon seems to be about self-belief.
Part of the reason this is an especially hard song
to talk about is that its a song about things that
are hard to talk about.
How do you keep cynicism at bay? I guess
Im pretty bored with cynicism. Besides a few
Pavement records, has it ever achieved anything
good? INTERVIEW: SHARON OCONNELL

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

83


  

    
  
  

      
 

SCORING: THE ORIGINAL ALBUM

10 Masterpiece

1 Poor!

SCORING: EXTRA MATERIAL

10 Untold riches

1 Barrel-scrapings

Archive
R EISSU ES|C OM P S|BOX SE T S|L OS T R EC OR DI NGS

DISC ONE:
Alex Harvey And His Soul Band 1963-1964
DISC TWO:
Alex Harvey And His Soul Band 2nd Album 1964
DISC THREE:
Alex Harvey The Blues 1964-1965
DISC FOUR:
Alex Harvey Solo/
Roman Wall Blues 1966-1969
DISC FIVE:
RockWorkshop/HairRaveUp/RockWorkshop
Solo/The Joker Is Wild 1969-1972
DISC SIX:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Framed 1972 EXPANDED
DISC SEVEN:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Next 1973 EXPANDED
DISC EIGHT:
The Impossible Dream 1974
DISC NINE:
Tomorrow Belongs To Me 1975 EXPANDED
DISC TEN:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band Live 1975
DISC ELEVEN:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
The Penthouse Tapes 1976 EXPANDED
DISC TWELVE:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band SAHB Stories 1976 EXPANDED
DISC THIRTEEN:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band Rock Drill 1977
DISC FOURTEEN:
Solo/The New Band 1978-1983

JANET MACOSKA

BOX CONTENTS

ALEX HARVEY
The Last Of The Teenage Idols
UNIVERSAL

Fourteen-disc retrospective for Glasgows favourite son.


By Alastair McKay

8/10

THERE ARE MANY


Alex Harveys and there
is only one. There is the
acerbic performer whose career was
killed by punk, but whose reputation
now places him as one of the
godfathers of the genre. There is
the hippy who spent years in the pit
band of the musical Hair, and
discussed space and UFOs
with David Bowie. There is
the performer whose sense of

dramatic menace inspired both Lulu and


Nick Cave, prompting Lulu to record Shout!
and Cave to essay The Hammer Song. And
there is the young Alex Harvey, who shared
a bill with The Beatles, won a competition
to tour as Scotlands Tommy Steele, and
learned his chops in Hamburg. Thats
without mentioning his time in a bluesinfluenced soul-revue band, or his album for
K-Tel investigating the Loch Ness Monster.
Harveys singular career, as uneven as
it was, can be seen as an alternative

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

85

SAHBlivewithChris
Glen(left)andZal
Cleminson, 1975

Harveywithhis
Soul Band, 1964
Harveylive
in the 60s

history of rocknroll. To the uninitiated,


it boils down to the couple of hits he had
with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. In
1975, SAHB reached No 7 in the UK charts with
their rambunctious cover of Delilah, a murder
ballad which had been a hit
for Tom Jones seven years
earlier. In 1976, they scored
their only other chart success
with Boston Tea Party; a
rather peculiar celebration of
the American bicentennial
which unspooled over
Ted McKennas
military drumbeat.
There is a lot more to
Harveys talent than that,
obviously. And over 14 discs, starting in
Hamburg and ending more or less on the
shores of Loch Ness, the fulcrum of his career
shifts, and the bizarre theatricality of SAHB is
thrown into a new light. The band were not, as it

sometimes appears, a warped version of


glam, even though Harvey was happy to
throw his lungs at Alice Coopers Schools
Out and The Osmonds Crazy Horses
(a curious choice, though the song fits with
Harveys oft-stated
ecological maxim:
Dont pish in the
water supply). They
were, instead, an
endlessly adaptable
group of musicians,
schooled in Harveys
eclecticism, and able
to shelter in whatever
musical shadows Harvey
was throwing. Certainly,
they were loud, and its true that some of their
prog stylings now sound dated, but SAHB were
as adaptable as Harvey was unpredictable.
That also made them a marketing nightmare,
and their studio albums struggled to capture

the power of their live performance, where


Harveys imagination, fired by comic books
and Cabaret, came to life in swaggering
theatrical songs such as Vambo a pulp
celebration of Harveys Glasgow adolescence,
with a Santa Claus/Captain Marvel superhero
and The Tomahawk Kid in which Harvey
rebooted Robert Louis Stevenson.
The key is Hair. Examine the music Harvey
made before and after, and its clear that his
time in the pit band of the West End show was
an apprenticeship.
Before Hair, he is trying
to interpret genres,
albeit with considerable
panache. The three
plaintive ballad is one of the great
tracks recorded in
lost Harvey songs. The lyric alludes to
Hamburg with his
the death in a plane crash of Harveys
brother Leslie in 1963 are
manager Bill Fehilly, and of his brother
Leslie (electrocuted onstage while
extraordinary, the standplaying with Stone The Crows).
out being a sparse attack
on the traditional Lord
ALEX HARVEY DEMO, UNDATED
Randall. Similarly,
BILLY BOLERO
Harveys recordings
A sparse home demo of a lovely western
with his Soul Band
ballad, previously glimpsed in a bootleg
video of Harvey playing in Vienna with
demonstrate the power
The Electric Cowboys. In the video,
of that voice, whether
Harvey introduces the song by saying
hes taking a selfhe wrote it for Clint Eastwood. When
mocking run at
the audience laughs, he retorts, Im no
The Riddle Song or
fuckin jokin! If Clint doesnt want it,
clambering playfully
Willie Nelson should borrow it.

SENSATIONAL!FOUR DEEP CUTS FROM THE BOX


ALEX HARVEY
AND LESLIE HARVEY 1963
LORD RANDALL

stations in 1974, it features a reflective


Harvey explaining the thinking behind
The Impossible Dream album, and the
Recorded in Hamburg in May 1963, a quite discipline required to be in SAHB.
extraordinary reading of the traditional
I wanted a band that was a unit, he says.
Borders ballad, with Harveys brother
Weve got to sit and think like one man.
Leslie shaking the life out his guitar while He talks about moulding the band Tear
Alex croons mellifluously about a cup
Gas into something more direct and
of cold poison, mother, oh. Its a maudlin
penetrating and more simple.
composition, but delivered with such
emotional clarity that you wonder why
THE SENSATIONAL
ALEX HARVEY BAND 1977
Harvey didnt make greater use of the
folk canon.
NO COMPLAINTS

DEPARTMENT

ALEX HARVEY 1974


ALEX HARVEY TALKS
ABOUT EVERYTHING

Included on a few early copies of Rock


Drill before being replaced by Mrs
Blackhouse (a country and western
From a promo disc sent to American radio attack on Mary Whitehouse), this

86 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

TRUDY HARVEY

JANET MACOSKA

We are not so much


violent as an act of
violence, said
Harvey. We go
close to the edge

rchive
over Big Rock Candy Mountain. By 1969,
Harvey is getting playful. Harp (which
appears in demo and complete form here)
adds music to a poem by Czech writer
Miroslav Holub, and has a faint whiff of
The Velvet Underground.
And then comes Hair. Its not the songs
he recorded for the show itself, but what
follows. In the aftermath, Harvey is bigger,
bolder, an exaggerated version of his already
exaggerated self. The voice is louder, and
loaded with more Glaswegian menace. He is
no longer just a band leader. Hes a one-man
musical theatre.
Live, the effect is multiplied. On the five
songs from a 1972 BBC In Concert, the bands
playing is heavier and harder, and Harveys
command of the stage is absolute. But hes still
happy to subvert expectations, following the
heightened drama of Framed (a Leiber and
Stoller composition, first recorded by The
Robins in 1954) with the woozy, barroom singalong Theres No Lights On The Christmas Tree
Mother (Theyre Burning Big Louie Tonight).
SAHBs career was distorted somewhat by a
quest for a hit single, with their management
reassuring them that once they had a hit, they
would be free to explore their creativity.
Instead, the hit became a millstone. After
Delilah, there was a demand for more of the
same, and while the 1976 album The Penthouse
Tapes showcases the bands eclecticism, there
is a sense that Harvey was beginning to regress
into his earlier persona as the leader of a show
band. SAHBs final album, Rock Drill (1977), is
underrated, and if it doesnt quite answer the
challenge of punk, it does show that they were
still capable of musical renewal. The rhythmic
Booids is an interpretation of ancient Persian
military music. Not exactly new wave, but
startling in its way.
That wasnt the end, but the curtain was
falling. Harvey quit SAHB during rehearsals
for a make-or-break tour, forming The New
Band, whose album The Mafia Stole My Guitar
emerged in 1979. Its often overlooked, but
the closing track, Just A Gigolo/I Aint Got
Nobody, finds him exploring his inner
Louis Armstrong to good effect.
Commercially, there was no going back.
Harveys career was at a low ebb when he
died in February 1982, the day before his 47th
birthday. He was tired and disillusioned,
and in an era when record sales mattered more
than live performance, had never quite earned
his due rewards. Still, he knew what he was
doing. In a 24-minute spoken-word piece
(originally sent out to US radio stations with
The Impossible Dream), Harvey muses on his
upbringing and his bands purpose. We
are not so much violent as an act of violence,
he says. We go close to the edge. I am the
director and were making a movie every
night. And were playing the soundtrack at
the same time.
He talks about the need for intensity. Then
he confesses that hes really an actor rather
than a singer, although its still the truth.
EXTRAS: A 60-page hardcover book featuring
8/10 essays, previously unseen personal
photos, documents and newspaper cuttings.

He was very
au fait with all
he battles. He
maintained that
he was actually at
he battle of
Waterloo. But he
ad this dual
hing. He knew
ve performance
as not about
eing timid.

Harveywith
his wife Trudy

Ted McKenna

TrudyHarvey(Alexs
widow)andTedMcKenna
(SAHB drummer)

S IT TRUE David Bowie used to visit


Alex at your flat in Hampstead?
TRUDY HARVEY: David had had
some success with music, but he was an
unknown and he used to come and sit with
us, and sleep on the floor and he came to see
me when I was in hospital and had my son. At
that time he was playing songs with mime
artist Lindsay Kemp.
I heard Alex and Bowie used to loll around
talking about UFOs.
TH: Yes, its true enough. They talked a lot
about space. Alex recommended that David
read Arthur C Clarkes Childhoods End. So yes
it was absolutely that atmosphere of flying
saucers. It was in the middle of the hippy era.
Alex was an avid reader. He was always
interested in politics. He would read science
fiction. He read people like William
Burroughs the American writing of that era.
You were living by Hampstead Heath.
Did you and Alex go for walks?
TH: Yes we did. Also, there used to be
a newspaper called International Times. And
there was something in it that said, Come to
Hampstead Heath to join Yoko Ono, and learn
how to catch wait for it an imaginary
butterfly. That was the era. I cant remember
if we caught any butterflies. To my recall, we
didnt. But someone was handing out
sardines in tins. Feeding
the 5,000 or something.
Yoko Ono wasnt even
known then. It sounds
so crazy when I think
about it now.

So Alex knew how to channel


aggression?
TH: Of course. His experience told him
what worked. Hed been in the Soul
Band and hed spent five years in Hair: sitting
on the stage he watched how the American
directors focused the audiences attention.
That and all these other experiences of being
in Hamburg. Right at the start of the
Sensational Alex Harvey Band, he said:
Theyre going to either love us or hate us,
and he said, Were going to get them all.
For him it was either Yes or No.
TM: We supported Slade, who were the
biggest live band in the country, but we went
on as if we were the top band. They didnt like
us and they used to throw stuff at us. So Alex
eventually got a water pistol I wont tell you
what was in it and he stood at the front of the
stage, so when they spat or threw paper cups
he would just squirt them. Wherever we went
our attitude was: were the greatest band in
the world. You wont forget us.
Alexs career followed the development
of rocknroll.
TM: God yeah. All of that mix of emotions
and influences came out through the band. It
was full of contradictions. One minute we
were trying to do Persian music or Jacques
Brels Next or Edith Piafs Heaven Have
Mercy. Then hed want to do Hank Williams,
or Irene Goodnight or Gambling Barroom
Blues. One of the great luxuries of the band
was that there wasnt anything he could
come up with that we wouldnt fancy having
a go at, whether it was a tango or a waltz, or
Cheek To Cheek. And then going to see
Cabaret and seeing that horrific, moving
scene where the young boys are singing
Tomorrow Belongs To Me chilling.
We did it in Germany Alex was fearless. He
used to do Framed as a gangster, and then
he did it as Hitler, and
then he did it as Christ.

He was driven. He
did want to tell
people: look after
yourself, look after
your world

Alex had a hardman


image, but he was
a pacifist. Was that a
contradiction?
TH: Certainly he had to be
a criminal or a hard nut to
sing Framed. But he
was a pacifist absolutely. However, he was
fascinated by the British Empire, the military.
He collected little lead soldiers and repaired
them. It was a paradox. Thats not to say he
didnt get angry sometimes. He was human.
He didnt get into fights. Ive never known him
get into a fight. Thats a myth.
TED MCKENNA: He had a very definite
attitude about warfare and guns and
aggression mainly because hed studied it.

What was his


particular talent?
TH: He was driven. He
did want to tell people:
look after yourself, look
after your world, dont
piss in the water supply.
Dont buy any bullets,
make any bullets or fire
any bullets. I think he
wanted to be a kind of
messenger of something new. In a way, he was
a kind of revolutionary.

TM: Alexs fascination for mans inhumanity


to man was balanced by him saying hed
rather have a Fender Strat than an AK-47,
because youd reach more people. He said if
you play Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly, people
are going to love that and theyre going to live.
That was his philosophy.
INTERVIEWS: ALASTAIR McKAY

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

87

Archive
Worth a shot:
The Black
Canyon Gang

VARIOUS ARTISTS
TRACKLIST
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19

Jimmy Carter And Dallas


County Green Travelin
Mistress Mary And I Didnt Want You
Plain Jane You Cant Make It Alone
Dan Pavlides Lily Of The Valley
Angel Oak I Saw Her Cry
Kathy Heidiman Sleep A Million Years
Deerfield Me Lovin You
Arrogance To See Her Smile
Jeff Cowell Not Down This Low
Kenny Knight Babys Back
The Black Canyon Gang Lonesome City
Allan Wachs Mountain Roads
Mike And Pam Martin Lonely Entertainer
Bill Madison Buffalo Skinners
White Cloud All Cried Out
Ethel-Ann Powell Gentle One
Sandy Harless I Knew Her Well
FJ McMahon Spirit Of The Golden Juice
Doug Firebaugh Alabama Railroad Town

88 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Wayfaring Strangers:
Cosmic American Music
NUMERO GROUP

Farther along The lost outriders of Americana,


rediscovered. By John Mulvey

8/10

RECENTLY, UNCUTs Jason


Anderson filed a feature on the
culture of reissue labels, and their quest to discover
music of quality that has remained lost and
unheard, even at this late date. In the piece, which
were planning to run in the next issue, one of the
fervid and articulate record-hunters interviewed
by Anderson was Ken Shipley, from the Chicago
imprint Numero Group. Asked about the myth of

crate-diggers finding these gems in record shops,


Shipley was dismissive. Thats just some fantasy
shit that the media wants to portray of people on
their stomachs crawling around on basement
floors, he told Anderson. The reality is all the
best records are in peoples houses. And really,
the best stuff right now is stuff thats undiscovered
and people never even knew existed.
It is sometimes hard to countenance that this

Archive

best stuff genuinely exists. Surely, its


more likely that rare records are now being
rediscovered and repromoted due to a
fetishisation of obscurity, rather than as a
celebration of excellence? The Numero Groups
ongoing series of Wayfaring Strangers
compilations eloquently suggests otherwise,
bearing witness to the fact that great tranches of
valuable music are still out there, having been
hidden at the back of remote American attics for
the past 40-odd years. The focus of Wayfaring
Strangers is on private-press records releases
on indie labels that were often little more than
personal vanity projects. Copies would rarely
number more than a few hundred. Distribution
would mostly be limited to the artists
neighbourhood and nearby towns. Ambitions
would, almost without exception, be stymied.
Still, the post-Joni women collected on the
Ladies From The Canyon edition of Wayfaring
Strangers (2006), and the American Primitives
who fill the Guitar Soli set (2008), suggest
a rich hinterland of music-makers: briefly
transcendent; ultimately thwarted. Cosmic

American Music, the latest volume, is


erhaps the strongest yet, evidence of
ow an adventurous idea of roots-rock
ermeated every level of the countrys
music business in the 1970s. The Eagles
may have been finessing frontier
opes for a mainstream rock audience,
nd becoming Americas biggest band
the process, but at the same time,
hapel Hills Arrogance were struggling
be heard beyond their immediate
virons even though the strafed
onky-tonk of To See Her Smile
was every bit the equal of
he songs released by their
ollywood contemporaries.
To See Her Smiles excellence
endemic of Cosmic American
Music, and a good indication of
ow straitened circumstances
nd general obscurity did
ot mean that the records
ollected here sound remotely
mateurish. Theres a fluency
nd craftsmanship consistently
n show, far removed from any
ssumptions about nave art or
utsider music not least when
larence White, prototyping
is and Gene Parsons
tringbender gadget, adds
aintive steel effects to Mistress Marys
mbling And I Didnt Want You.
At least one member of Arrogance,
on Dixon, ended up playing a critical part
the ongoing development of the sound,
o-producing REMs Murmur and Reckoning
ith Mitch Easter. White Cloud, meanwhile,
arboured two key players: Eric Weissberg,
who essayed Duelling Banjos on the
eliverance soundtrack; and frontman
homas Jefferson Kaye, who would
roduce Gene Clarks No Other. White
louds All Cried Out is a small
lassic of country-soul, at once lush
nd distrait, and a useful reminder
hat Kayes fantastic, self-titled solo
lbum from 1973 itself languishes
ystifyingly out of print.
Keen students of the genre will
ecognise a couple more Cosmic
merican Music contributors from
ther recent reissues, notably
olorado ex-Marine Kenny Knight:
is louche chugger, Babys Back,
esurfaced with its 1980 parent
lbum, Crossroads, on the Paradise
f achelors label a year ago. The outstanding
FJ McMahon, likewise, has had his Fred Neil-ish
Spirit Of The Golden Juice, dating from 1969, in
circulation via Rev-Ola since 2009. Bill Madison,
whose Buffalo Skinners could plausibly be
the work of Bert Jansch circa LA Turnaround,
apparently saw his Sunday Mornin Hayride (1973)
slipped back out on Yoga around the same time.
Those artists, thus far, are the lucky ones.
Explaining the competitive ethos of the reissues
business, Ken Shipley told Jason Anderson that
You gotta keep this shit super-tight, and as
a consequence its hard to know whether, for
instance, the rest of Sandy Harless Songs is a
match for the delicately Gene Clarkish I Knew
Her Well. Harless bad luck is twofold. First, he
paid for the recording of Songs from the profits
of his 27-tank fish-breeding business, only
to be ripped off by a sham record label. Second,
his faint online profile is overshadowed today
by that of a female singer sharing the same name.
The second Sandy Harless is a strenuously
Christian proselytiser: her vision of cosmic
American music may not, one suspects,
be quite the same thing at all.

THE
ABYSSINIANS
The Clinch Singles
Collection UNIVERSAL
Box of seven restored
vinyl singles from JA
roots harmony trio
7/10 In 1969, Bernard Collins and
Donald Manning entered
Clement Dodds Studio One compound and,
backed by a team of expert players, recorded
Satta Amassa Gana a gorgeous Rastafarian
hymn inspired by the pairs study of Amharic,
an ancient Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia.
That a figure as savvy as Dodd would pass on
releasing the record that would later become
The Abyssinians debut single indicates how
distinct the groups music was from prevailing
dancehall trends. Instead, The Abyssinians
completed by Donalds brother Linford issued
the track on their own Clinch Records. Its
reproduced here, along with six other vinyl
singles that chart the trios path through the
1970s, a decade in which roots reggae itself
became a force on the island. At their best, The
Abyssinians attained a unique synthesis of
sweetness and heaviness: 1974s Bunny Tom
Tom-produced Prophesy sets Collins
lamentful vocal about gang violence against a
hard militant bounce, and is spun out as a
ghostly dub on the Channel One mixing desk for
the B-side. Love Comes And Goes, meanwhile,
puts talk of Jah on hold for a gentle paean to
romantic longing that shows the trios harmonies
at their best. A nice, if pricey, package.
EXTRAS: Seven-inch box with sleeves,
8/10 spindle adaptor, sheet of notes.
LOUIS PATTISON

KARL BARTOS
Communication
(reissue, 2003)
TROCADERO

Former Kraftwerk
percussionists debut
solo album, remastered
8/10 When, in 1975, Ralf Htter
and Florian Schneider
decided to assemble an extended Kraftwerk
lineup to bring Autobahn to the stage, they
were directed towards a young percussionist at
Dsseldorfs Robert Schumann Konservatorium
named Karl Bartos. Bartos would become a
crucial cog in the Kraftwerk machine he beat
out the unmistakable rhythm to Numbers
and remained with the group until 1990, when
he left frustrated by Htter and Schneiders
perfectionism. In the decade that followed,
Bartos recorded as Elektric Music and
collaborated with Sumner/Marrs Electronic,
before finally dropping his own solo album,
Communication its reception scuppered, with
exquisite timing, by Kraftwerks own longdelayed return with Tour De France Soundtracks.
Shame, as Communication is rather good: a sort
of Computer World 2.0 that dwells on the nature
of our newly connected planet. Bartos doesnt
quite have the eye for a concept of his former
employers, a musing on celebrity culture titled
15 Minutes Of Fame falling slightly flat. But
Im The Message and Reality are suitably
body-moving, while Life a hymn to seizing
the day finds him dropping the Vocoder and
singing eerily like a Teutonic Bernard Sumner.
EXTRAS: Previously unreleased track
4/10 Camera Obscura.
LOUIS PATTISON

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

89

Archive

Rediscovered!

BONNIE
PRINCE BILLY
Pond Scum
DOMINO

Uncovering the underrated and overlooked

MILKNCOOKIES
MilknCookies (reissue, 1975)
CAPTURED TRACKS

Will Oldhams John Peel


Sessions or half of
them revisited
7/10 As a general rule,
Oldham has always
seemed more interested in reworking his past
than anthologising it: hence the new versions
of old songs that filled albums such as Sings
Greatest Palace Music (2004), and Singers Grave
A Sea Of Tongues (2014), which shared nine of its
11 tracks with 2011s Wolfroy Goes To Town. Pond
Scum, however, is an archive project, albeit one
delivered with all the caginess we expect from
this most capricious of singer-songwriters.
Notionally, its a compilation of the sessions
Oldham recorded for John Peel between 1993
and 2002. But only three of those six figure, in
reverse order, and one song from 2001 has gone
astray (Rich Wife Full Of Happiness, released
as a download in January). Four songs from
2002, with Arbouretums Dave Heumann on
guitar and piano, are most rewarding, not
least a radical rearrangement of Death To
Everyone. The earliest set, from 1994 and
the Palace years, is a reminder of Oldhams
uncanny formative work: American folks imp
of the perverse, wayward of voice. The raw
sound echoes the contemporaneous Days In
The Wake, but the songs are different, including
Pond Scums one cover: a take on The Cross
that replaces Princes widescreen awe with
intimate, revelatory dread.
EXTRAS: None.

Before their career crumbled: NYC upstarts unsung debut


Ushered in by The Velvet Underground and intensified by the
New York Dolls, the NYC rock underground in the early 1970s
was a bubbling cauldron, about to explode in a dozen different
directions. As the decade wore on, CBGB opened and punk
arrived, it did, bringing the world such wildly diverse talents
as the Ramones, Television, Blondie and Talking Heads.
MilknCookies, already bar-scene upstarts by 1973, arguably
influenced them all. But timing is everything in such a highstakes pressure cooker, and within the Cookies weird story the quintets timing was all wrong
exactly when it seemed to be just right. Hit producer Muff Winwood came calling, inserting
Roxy Music bassist Sal Maida into the lineup, and whisking them to London to record their Island
debut. A series of misunderstandings and record company manoeuvres later, the band was
dropped, and the record slipped out two years later as an afterthought, essentially shredding
reversing even their once cutting-edge reputation. MilknCookies moment vanished.
That ill-fated LP, a curious few would eventually learn, is grand, ahead of its time, a brash, genrebending testament to the effervescence of youth. The group gleefully anticipated punk, dancing
upon every nonconformist theme roiling through glam-drenched 1974: the Raspberries sturdy,
melody-based pop; the Dolls hard-driving, sexually ambivalent rocknroll; T.Rexs sly irony; plus
David Bowie, Sparks and others, wrapping it all in a bubblegum sheen.
Singer Justin Strauss led the fray. A fascinating tangle of contradictions, he was poised yet
impetuous, fey yet audacious, nave yet knowing, with an edgy, theatrical, sexually ambiguous
air. Songwriter Ian North, later a solo artist, answers Strauss persona with enveloping keyboard
flourishes and snaking guitars. They had an experimental
edge, too, with some odd time signatures and occasional bouts
of minimalism see the stop-start stutter of
their most risqu track, Rabbits Make Lov .
At their most gripping, though, Milk n
Cookies penned pulsing guitar-pop
anthems about impulsiveness, sex and
youth: Little Lost And Innocent, Not
Enough Girls In The World and Just
A Kid all peer into that ephemeral
moment when life feels wide open.
This special edition immaculately
rights the bands sad narrative, adding
20 unheard tracks, including a
pugnacious 1976 demo that both
confirms Winwoods original instincts
and hints at their would-be evolution.
A 120-page hardbound book treats
the group with a reverence denied
them in their prime.

Lost early recordings


from hallowed
6/10 singer-songwriter
The songs on You And I
were the late Jeff Buckleys first recorded tracks
for Columbia. Unearthed in the Sony Music
archives while the label was putting together a
20th-anniversary package for his Grace album,
they were recorded in February 1993 at
producer Steve Addabbos Shelter Island
Sound studio, but they never saw the light of
day. Its covers that make up the bulk of the
songs, and some are more successful than
others. The opening version of Dylans Just
Like A Woman, set against the simplest
guitar- picking, is knife-through-the-heart
wonderful. So too is Poor Boy Long Way From
Home, a traditional blues song popularised
by Bukka White, in which Buckley ditches
his signature vibrato and his voice takes on a
rare graininess. Less successful is his take on
The Smiths The Boy With The Thorn In His
Side, a song that doesnt lend itself to his
vocal gymnastics, plus a shrieking cover of
Everyday People, which takes Sly & The
amily Stones original and removes all trace
of joy. Perhaps the finest moment here is an
early version of Grace, which would become
he title track of his only studio LP, and on
which his self-assurance as a newly signed
artist is quite electrifying.
EXTRAS: None.

LUKE TORN

FIONA STURGES

JOHN MULVEY

JEFF
BUCKLEY
You And I

8/10

90 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

COLUMBIA/LEGACY
RECORDINGS

Archive

(reissue, 1965)

TONY CONRAD
WITH FAUST
Outside The
Dream Syndicate

FLYING SAUCER
ATTACK
Distance/
Further/Chorus

SUPERIOR VIADUCT

(reissue, 1973)

(reissues, 1994, 95, 95)

SUPERIOR VIADUCT

DOMINO

WILLIAM
BURROUGHS
Call Me Burroughs
Beats in show:
Burroughs reads,
8/10 naked and alone
Discussing beat author
William Burroughs unique presence, and his
peculiar impact on popular culture, Laurie
Anderson once said, He was relentless and
never stopped talking, and just said things
that hadnt been said ever. It woke me up, woke
a lot of people up. While its easy to reduce
Burroughs to a set of tedious clichs junk,
cut-ups, queer, controversy spend any
amount of time with his work and you quickly
realise that Burroughs was always pointing
outwards, moving the form forward, finding
unexpected and abstract connections, fusing
the body to the word in surprising ways,
hot-wiring the heart and mind in new
conjunctions. Call Me Burroughs is the first
album he released of his readings, encouraged
by Gat Frog of the English Bookshop in Paris,
and also by close collaborator Brion Gysin, who
advised which sections of Nova Express and
The Naked Lunch Burroughs should read. Its
still startling to hear his crackling, ornery
drawl, denuded, without the tape cut-ups
Burroughs typically used when experimenting
with audio. The white heat of his scorched
earth, post-surrealist poetics is still hard to
beat: Burroughs was less an author than a
mediated nervous system, on 24/7 alert.
EXTRAS: None.

A minimalist monolith,
9/10 back in print
It could easily be
considered an afterthought or a sidenote
in Fausts career. A travelling experimental
filmmaker, with a history of making music in
the New York avant-garde, drops by the Faust
commune in Wmme to record an album
under the guiding hand of Uwe Nettelbeck, the
presiding aesthetic of which seems to be: play
half, then play less. The filmmaker in question,
though, was Tony Conrad, whod spent the
1960s performing high-volume, fiercely
mainlined minimalism with John Cale,
LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela in The
Theatre Of Eternal Music, and who was one of
the key figures in the constellation surrounding
Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground.
It was a combination sure to produce sparks,
though the overriding fascination of Outside
The Dream Syndicate, recorded across three
days in 1972, is just how disciplined it is:
Conrads violin reels out a deathly, rattlesnake
drone across the two 27-minute sides of the
record, while on Side One, the Faust rhythm
section relentlessly thud away at a one-note
anti-groove; on Side Two, The Side Of The
Machine, Faust are more active, but its all
relative. The result: rock and the avant-garde
as natural bedfellows.
EXTRAS: None.

Home taping is
reinventing music
A duo for a period before
continuing as a solo project, recently back after a
15-year hiatus, the history of Bristols Flying
Saucer Attack is hazy. Thats only appropriate,
perhaps, for an act known for creating what,
exactly? Scuzzy dreampop? Folk-tinged noise
rock? English kosmische? Their own phrase,
rural psychedelia, seems as good as any to
describe these three records: defiantly lo-fi,
feedback-soaked, never quite in focus. Two of
these three re-releases, 1994s Distance and the
following years Chorus, are compilations, but
they cohere convincingly; Further, from the
same period, is their proper second album and
perhaps the finest of the three, although clear
highlights elsewhere include November Mist
(Distance) and Beach Red Lullaby (Chorus).
Rather than single tracks, though, it is a case of
prolonged submersion in the FSA soundworld: a
swirling collision of AR Kane, Richard Youngs,
Syd Barrett and Popol Vuh (namechecked on
Chorus). Alongside acts such as Crescent, Third
Eye Foundation and Movietone, FSA were part of
a 90s Bristol scene spoken of less than so- called
trip-hop but, in an underground sense, also
highly influential: Jim ORourke, cLOUDDEAD
and the Dead C are among their apparent fans.
New Lands (1997) is to be reissued later this year.
EXTRAS: None.

JON DALE

JON DALE

MARCUS ODAIR

CLEAR LIGHT
Clear Light
(reissue, 1967)

HOW TO BUY...

6/10 LUKE TORN

VOLKER
KRIEGEL
House-Boat

FAUST COLLABORATIONS
From warped pop to drone attacks

ACE/BIG BEAT

The West Coast sound


doubles down; early
psychsters story
8/10 revealed, plus eight
bonus tracks
Spinning out from the successes of The Byrds,
The Doors and Tim Buckley, Clear Light were
sophisticated, ambitious, explosive; and,
as it turned out, the odd band out, crumbling,
hitless, out of the gate. Produced in 1967 by Paul
Rothchild, on his high horse in the wake of The
Doors breakthrough, and fronted by singerturned-actor Cliff DeYoung, they bridged folk
into jazz, pop and classical into instrumental
jam-fests a progenitor of prog. Unlike their
heroes Love, though, their capacity for melodic,
enveloping hooks was less prominent, more
ephemeral. This set collects their one Elektra LP,
the punky Brain Train single, and five strong,
developmental, folk-rockish demos, highlighted
by the frantic, Nuggets-y Shes Ready To Be
Free. A whiff of theatricality permeates their
approach they recast Tom Paxtons Mr Blue
into a six-minute-plus take on paranoia and
jazzy, unpredictable time changes and a rare
dual-drummer lineup were other calling cards.
Still, Clear Light, ironically, most impress when
they keep things simple: the melancholy-slashrestlessness of lead single Black Roses, and
guitarist Bob Seals With All In Mind, a
churning rocker that flows out as the rousing
hit single it should have been.
EXTRAS: Bonus tracks.

8/10

SLAPP HAPPY

(reissue, 1978)

Sort Of POLYDOR, 1972

ABSOLUTE MARKETING

Faustrecordedtwoalbumswith
SlappHappythiswastheonly
onereleasedatthetime.The
rubberypulseofFaustsrhythmsectionPeron
andZappiisstrangelyperfectforthebucolic
art-rockofBlegvad,KrauseandMoore.Features
BlueFlower,SlappHappysfinestpopmoment,
latercovered by Mazzy Star and Pale Saints.

8/10

Proggy Germany jazzrock session from 1978


7/10 By the late 70s, US jazzrock seemed to have run
out of steam. After clumsily flirting with disco
and merging into muzak, American musicians
were starting to jettison all notions of fusion
and reverting to the comfort zones of bebop.
However, in Europe and particularly in West
Germany the freedoms of electric jazz were
still being explored with enthusiasm, and this
1978 session sees the partnership of guitarist
Volker Kriegel and vibraphone virtuoso
Wolfgang Schlter exploring areas that few
Stateside jazzers wanted to go. There are some
slightly clumsy funky moments on House-Boat,
with Evert Fratermans drums buried deep in
the mix on the title track and on the quirky
Achterbahn, but the best tracks here are
largely drumless. The textures on numbers
such as Are You Really Living Next To Me?
and In Your Way recall Steely Dans roughly
contemporaneous Aja, while the folksier See
The Changes and Your Face, Your Voice are
pitched somewhere between Tim Buckley and
John Martyn. Throughout, Kriegels slinky, sitarinfluenced improvisations blend seamlessly
with Schlters four-mallet vibes and marimba.
Even the tracks that move into smooth jazz
territory like the weightless Chateau
Sentimental sound fresh and clich-free.
EXTRAS: None.

JON DALE

JOHN LEWIS

9/10
FAUST

Rien TABLE OF THE ELEMENTS, 1994


Returningateroveradecades
silence,Rienwas70sFaustas
reconstructedfromrecordingsof
90sFaustbyproducerJimORourke.Ahugely
satisfyingdocumentguestappearancesby
MichaelMorley,ofTheDeadC,andKeiji Haino
foldintothe one-mind beautifully.

8/10
FAUST/NWW

Disconnected
ART-ERRORIST, 2007

WithStevenStapletonofNurse
WithWoundalongtimeKrautrock
booster,thecollaborationbetweenNWW
andFausthadtohappen.LassMichdrags
cut-upsoutofFaustsmonotonerockthrob;
Disconnectedcleavestothedronalanarchy
attheheartof NWWs sound world.

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

91

Archive
PERE UBU
Architecture
Of Language
1979-1982

LOVE
Reel To Real

(reissue, 1975)
HIGH MOON

PSYCHIC TV/
PTV3
Fishscales Falling:
A Smorgasbord
Ov Delights

FIRE

Arthur Lees underrated


funk-rock effort, ripe
for reappraisal
8/10 The last proper Love album
has been poorly treated by
history. While casual listeners were warned off
Arthur Lees erratic post-60s output and fans
obsessed over its lost predecessor Black Beauty
(which finally gained an official release in 2013),
Reel To Real remained hidden in plain sight
behind a hideous pastel sleeve. It features the
same all-black band assembled for Black Beauty
including guitarists Melvan Whittington and
John Sterling, Sherwood Akuna on bass and
drummer Joe Blocker drums with the addition
of several crack guitarists, keyboardists, gospel
singers and horn players, as Lee revelled in the
luxury of a big advance for the only time in his
career. Reel To Reals rollicking StaxnHendrix
sound is surprisingly slick, but Lee never
sounds as if hes coasting. In fact, he sounds
pretty pumped, as well he might: Who Are
You sizzles with funky intent, while Four Sails
Singing Cowboy is given an irresistibly lowslung makeover. Its not Forever Changes, but it
is a rich, varied and soulful album that captures
an exuberant Lee on an all-too-fleeting upswing.
EXTRAS: As it turns out, a wilder version of Reel
8/10 To Real could have been constructed
from the alternate takes. With A Little Energy
and Busted Feet are superior to the reined-in
album versions, while the righteous Do It
Yourself was strangely overlooked.

Second vinyl box


mops up US weirdies
8/10 wilderness years
Cant we be happy like
the tiny mice, the tiny mice? David Thomas
chirruped on 1981 single Not Happy, gleefully
ramming his new bucolic vision in the faces of
his dwindling band of supporters. Perverse
enough in the golden 1975-78 period
anthologised on last years Elitism For The
People, Pere Ubu shook off most post-punk
fellow travellers thereafter, the Cleveland
oddballs original train of thought having hit
the buffers on 1979s extreme noise error New
Picnic Time. Wearingly obtuse on the whole
A Small Dark Cloud amounts to around
six minutes of electronic tweety noises it
concludes with the daunting Jehovahs
Kingdom Comes (here retitled Kingdom
Come), Thomas welcoming the end of days over
a disembowelled approximation of The Beatles
Tomorrow Never Knows. Having apparently
rediscovered his faith, the singers disdain for
sloppy morals and gloomy long-mac music
fuelled the hello-trees, hello-sky extremism
of 1980s The Art Of Walking, and the Captain
Beefheart tiki of 1982s Song Of The Bailing Man.
With no-one left to annoy, Ubu powered down,
but their failure is more heroic in retrospect.
Not a decline, but a deliberate descent.
EXTRAS: A fourth disc of contemporary singles
7/10 plus outtakes and oddments.

Compiling demos, live


recordings and new
material from Genesis
P-Orridges amorphous art-rock project
Recent years have seen Genesis P-Orridges
industrial group Throbbing Gristle get the full
reissue treatment. Overlooked by comparison,
though, is P-Orridges post-Gristle group
Psychic TV (since 2003, PTV3), whose tangled
discography has remained rather more elusive.
Now, New Yorks Dais Records has reissued all
of PTV3s work as digital downloads, adding
this iTunes-only compilation as an entry point.
Strangely sequenced, it is presented mix-tapestyle, with 50 minutes of music split across two
unnamed sides. Droning electronic segments
and improvised noise squalls melt into more
conventionally rock moments although
conventional is a relative term here, of course,
and perhaps a misnomer for P-Orridges twisted
take on psych and prog rock. BB is a swirling
organ garage stomp with lyrics extolling the
virtues of pandrogyny, while a live take on early
Psychic TV single Roman P an arch tribute to
the director Roman Polanski is raucously odd.
Perhaps the highlight is Maximum Swing,
featuring vocals from the Butthole Surfers
Gibby Haynes and guitar from Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Nick Zinner: a spirited exorcism of Captain
Beefheart at his most Satanically deranged.
EXTRAS: None.

SAM RICHARDS

JIM WIRTH

LOUIS PATTISON

THE
MONOCHROME
SET
Volume, Contrast,
Brilliance

DAIS

6/10

REVELATIONS

PURE HELL
Noise Addiction:
1978 New York &
London Sessions

Why The Monochrome Set will


never play the cruise ships

CHERRY RED

TAPETE

Unreleased and rare cuts


7/10 from indie-pop veterans
They were dealt a bad hand
in terms of commercial success and history
swept them to musics cultish margins, but
Londons post-punk/proto indie popsters The
Monochrome Set have been acclaimed in recent
years by the good and the great. Graham Coxon,
Iggy Pop and Alex Kapranos are acolytes, and
they made an undeniable impact on The Smiths
early sound. Formed in 1978 by singer and
songwriter Bid (n Ganesh Seshadri) and
guitarist Lester Square, TMS nailed an elegant
and deeply eccentric, lyrically caustic, tag-averse
style that has come to represent English pop
classicism. This unreleased and rare collection
follows five years after their reformation and
33 years after Volume One. It spans 1978-91 and
the earlier cuts are strongest: 1978s Fly Me To
The Moon (Joy Division with an oddly jolly,
kosmische drive); I Wanna Be Your Man from
the same year (a mix of Velvets-y art pop, 60s
beat and psychedelic raga); and 1983s Cilla
Black, which shifts from galloping country noir
to Scott Walker-ish drama in cleverly segued
movements. Less winning are the late-80s/
early-90s likes of White Lightning and Bella
Morte, which recall Paris Angels and New FADs,
but 89s I Want Your Skin is a proggy triumph,
hung on duelling guitars.
EXTRAS: None.

Its only thanks to their countless truly


committed fans that some of the songs on
The Monochrome Sets new compilation have
seen the light of day. Some of these things
I forgot ever existed, says singer Bid, of the
various digitised tapes that have come his way
over the past 10 years. Ive put them all on the
computer, although some are permanently
lost because the tapes have degraded.
Bids work is far from just archival. TMS
occupies him full-time, despite his aneurysm
in 2010. While I was writing [2012 album]
Platinum Coils ater the stroke, I found that I
had true aphasia, but I was still writing songs.
Bid has no taste for nostalgia, however.
He recalls Cherry Reds 30th-anniversary
celebrations: We went in to do a rehearsal
and down the corridor, X-Ray Spex were
playing. We thought, We cant do that. It was
like performing for the cruise ships. The nice
thing was, when we went to Japan in 2011, we
thought it was just going to be old fans, but it
was full of young people pogoing, shirts o.

Forgotten AfricanAmerican punkers


6/10 complete works
Looking back on Pure
Hells days as New York Dolls hangers-on,
bassist Kerry Lenny Still Boles recalls walking
from 59th to Spruce St to catch the bus through
gang territory with high heels and wigs on. It
was a tough look to rock for scrawny white boys,
and more confrontational still for four muscly
young black men from macho Philadelphia.
Early punk-rock adopters drummer Michael
Spider Sanders was briefly a Doll at the death
Pure Hell nonetheless released just the one
single, 1978s metal-edged These Boots Are
Made For Walking, while Noise Addiction,
their only album, was to lay dormant for
decades following a dispute with their manager,
Jimi Hendrixs old boss Curtis Knight. The
Heartbreakers LAMF with Alvin Lee-level guitar
chops, courtesy of Preston Chip Wreck Morris,
it founders on a lack of killer tunes, Hard
Action, Spoiled Sport and Courageous Cat
the best of a proto glam-metal bunch.
EXTRAS: A live DVD recorded for New York
6/10 cable TV in 1978 showcases Morris
Hendrix-style play-your-guitar-round-theback-of-your-neck trick and some impressive
acrobatics from singer Kenny Stinker Gordon,
who is also pictured wearing a swastika T-shirt
on stage at Maxs Kansas City in the
accompanying booklet. Classy.

SHARON OCONNELL

SHARON OCONNELL

JIM WIRTH

92 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Bowiein1971,
atthetimeof
Hunky Dory

DAVID
BOWIE
Bowie At The
Beeb
PARLOPHONE

BRIAN WARD

Bowies revelatory BBC sessions,


now on vinyl. By Tom Pinnock
FOR AN ARTIST
eager to stagemanage much of
his life and career
including, as we
discovered this year,
his death David
Bowie was perversely
happy to present his
workings in public.
Take 1973s 1980 Floor
8/10 Show TV special,
where 1984 was
previewed in an embryonic stage a year before it
would appear on Diamond Dogs; or in December
1974, when a skeletal Bowie covered The Flares
Foot Stompin live on Americas Dick Cavett Show,
and then thought nothing the following year of
reusing Carlos Alomars riff for Fame.
Even the sheer number of references to movies,
literature, philosophy and the occult in Bowies
songs from bardos to Billy dolls practically
invites the listener to peer beneath the surface
and examine his influences and his bookshelves.
Bowie At The Beeb, reissued for the first time on
vinyl after its release on CD in 2000, presents more
of Bowies workings for our delectation. So quickly
did he evolve between 1968 and 1972 that most of
these sessions showcased songs that wouldnt be
in the shops for months. After four songs with the
Tony Visconti Orchestra from 1968 and two recorded
with Juniors Eyes in late 69 (not broadcast at the
time), we find Bowie taking over Radio 1 for a full
hour in February 1970. Though the session is still
incomplete no Buzz The Fuzz, Karma Man
or London Bye Ta-Ta we hear Bowie debut
an incomplete, shorter The Width Of A Circle
with his brand new sideman. Michaels just come
down from Hull, Bowie says. I met him for the
first time about two days ago. And with the
entrance of Mick Ronsons aggressive, strangulated
lead guitar, the sound of the Spiders From Mars
is prematurely hatched.
An electric Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud,
recorded in March 1970,
is darker and stranger
when shorn of its
syrupy orchestrations,
and from the same
session, unearthed for
this vinyl reissue, is a
full-band version of
The Supermen.
Recorded a month
before the version on
The Man Who Sold The
World, this is sleeker,
heavier and more
dynamic, with
Ronsons
mangled
lead lines
supremely
exciting.

One of the strangest sessions took place on June 3,


1971: with Hunky Dory still six months away, Bowie
was joined at the BBC by George Underwood, who
sings Song For Bob Dylan (not included here),
Dana Gillespie, Geoff MacCormack, Arnold Corns
guitarist Mark Carr-Pritchard, and Ronno, a group
consisting of Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Woody
Woodmansey. The jaunty opener, Bombers, is
sublime, with Bowie on piano and an amazing
pair of trousers, according to John Peel, while
Looking For A Friend, written for Arnold Corns,
is strutting but slighter. With Oh! You Pretty
Things subsequently lost, the most historically
valuable selection from this session is Kooks,
written by Bowie to celebrate the birth of his son
Zowie four days earlier. Id been listening to
a Neil Young album, he tells Peel, and they
phoned through and said my wife had had a baby
on Sunday morning. And I wrote this about the
baby. He professes to be unsure of the words,
but this meditative solo take is strikingly similar
to the Hunky Dory version, a testament to Bowies
faith in intuition.

Just a month after Hunky Dorys release in


December 1971, Bowie was back at the BBC, now
performing in the guise, if not the name, of Ziggy.
Out are the quirky piano ballads, and in are sleazy
rockers such as Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy
Stardust and a propulsive Im Waiting For The
Man. Returning in May 1972, the Spiders preview
a metallic Suffragette City, which tops the album
version for sheer energy. Theres more Velvets
worship too, with a brazen White Light/White
Heat (White light gonna make me feel like Lou
Reed), while the Spiders take on Moonage
Daydream presages the more bombastic Aladdin
Sane, with Ronsons guitar spewing molten chords
and Bolders bass buzzing and blown-out.
Later the same month, Bowie must have been
feeling nostalgic, for here were shunted back in
time with Space Oddity, Changes, Andy
Warhol and Oh! You Pretty Things, before a
session the following day brings us back to Ziggy
with Lady Stardust Bowie sounding even more
like Elton John on the opening line than on the
album and a rawer RocknRoll Suicide.
Twenty-four days later, Ziggy Stardust was
released, and Bowie would have no more time
to chat with John Peel about Chuck Berry songs.
Instead, hed be producing his hero Lou Reed, and
Bowie and America would devour each other
with delight and disgust. There would be no
room for BBC sessions, or for Ziggy himself.
Still, the short period covered by Bowie At
The Beeb is a pivotal and fascinating one; if
you want to hear Mick Ronson at the peak of his
powers, Kooks in its infancy, or an ensemble
cover of It Aint Easy, youll find them all here,
often as stunning as their official versions.
Ultimately, even when it seems as if Bowie is
letting us peer behind the curtain to see the nuts
and bolts of his work, the magic remains intact.
EXTRAS: Four heavyweight LPs housed in
7/10 a sturdy box. The Supermen is
previously unreleased, while the duo version of
Oh! You Pretty Things was a Japan-only bonus
track on the 2000 CD release.
APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

93

Archive
The

Specialist

BLIND ALFRED
REED
Appalachian
Visionary

Lost soul and jazz

Early-80s outsider electro

Lostprophets:(l-r)
KarelBeerand
Bernard Szajner

THE (HYPOTHETICAL) PROPHETS


Around The World With (reissue, 1982)
INFIN

THE TAPES
Selected Works 1982-1992
ECSTATIC

8/10

Dadaist cut-ups and Cold War paranoia inform two albums


of perverse dystopian electronics.
Like OMD, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and a fleet of lesser-spotted
synthpop acts who drew inspiration from the threat of Soviet nuclear
attack, The (Hypothetical) Prophets existed at the turn of the 1980s, and
crammed into their one album, Around The World With, enough ideas
to last a lifetime. In its first incarnation, this droll tte--tte between
pioneering French composer Bernard Szajner he conceived the laser
harp made famous by Jean-Michel Jarre and English flneur Karel Beer
took a satirical swipe at Russian ideology, causing the pair to adopt the
Joseph Weil and Norman D Landing as a precautionary
8/10 pseudonyms
measure. The tactic worked because both survived, or perhaps the
Soviets appreciated the absurdist humour and pulsing coldwave of
Back To The Burner, about a conflicted nuclear scientist.
When the project was picked up by CBS, Szajner and Beer widened their remit to take potshots
at Western consumerism and social mores. Fast Food, their best-known track, is a neorockabilly number in the style of Daniel Millers Silicon Teens that sends up the hectic pace of
city life. On Person To Person they trade lines from personal ads taken from Time Out and The
Village Voice, while I Like Lead and Fishermans Friend offer lurid riffs on the stock market
and weather forecast, respectively. If this sounds pass today, the way Szajner and Beer sprinkle
pop motifs like saxophone and female backing vocals over such rich and uncompromising
electronics gives the material a riveting contemporary edge, one reminiscent of Hector Zazous
psychedelic La Perversita LP. Szajner had already released the spellbinding Visions Of Dune solo
album in 1979, a radical kosmische set inspired by Frank Herberts
Dune, but this one-off collaboration with Beer who now books standup comedy in Paris added a splash of surrealism to his sound. Infins
long-awaited reissue is sequenced the way the Prophets originally
intended, and includes three bonus tracks.
Over in Genoa, meanwhile, operating far deeper underground,
brothers Giancarlo and Roberto Drago found themselves reacting to
Italys uneasy political climate of the early and mid-80s as The Tapes,
via the medium of DIY industrial minimalism. Throughout the decade,
the pair dashed off tiny runs of cassettes of primitive machine
funk and cut-up lo-fi loops, made using four-track recorders,
mono-synths, and drum-machines. Italian new-wave
connoisseur Alessio Natalizia (ex-Walls, now Not Waving)
has sifted through these tapes and picked 21 tracks
for the vinyl pressing of Selected Works 1982-1992.
From the proto-techno of Time Out Of Joint
and Tanz Fabrik to the sci-fi lullabies of Doubts
and Falso Movimento 82, each swaddled in tape
hiss, much of the beauty in the Dragos music
lies in the purity of their expression. With no
expectations, they created their own compelling
world of sound into which we can now plunge.
PIERS MARTIN

94 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

DUST-TO-DIGITAL

Underrated, quietly
moving roots from
8/10 the American South
Taped in summer 1927,
Ralph Peers recording sessions in Bristol,
Tennessee/Virginia are legendary in roots
music circles. But the magnitude of the major
discoveries from those sessions especially
The Carter Family cast a shadow across
the rest of the musicians involved, even
as, in the case of Blind Alfred Reed, their
contribution to American vernacular music
was every bit as potent. There are plenty of
great songs on Appalachian Visionary, but
two performances stand out: The Wreck
Of The Virginian, which opens the set,
a deceptively sprightly fiddle and vocal
song, and How Can A Poor Man Stand Such
Times And Live, where Reeds voice a
rich, resonant thing, with little of the nasal,
adenoidal burr of many early country singers
offers added emotional affect to a song that
documents and laments the struggles of the
working-class everyday. On How Can...,
Reeds son, Arville, accompanies him on
intricate guitar. Arville gets a few of his own
solo and duo slots (the latter with friend Fred
Pendleton in the West Virginia Night Owls),
but its father Alfred who lands the most
potent blows again and again.
EXTRAS: Great liners, rare photographs and
7/10 ephemera, all bound in hard cover.
JON DALE

REXY
Running Out Of
Time (reissue, 1981)
URU/LUCKY NUMBER

Delightfully askew LP by
short-lived synth-pop duo
It must have been no small
7/10 effort to stand out amid the
fashion plates of Londons
New Romantic scene. Nevertheless, Rex Nayman
attracted the attention of Vic Martin one fateful
night at a mutual hangout in Kingston upon
Thames in 1980. A keyboardist whod later serve
for the Eurythmics, Martin asked the fashion
student and Blitz Kid if she wanted to sing on a
record the fact she had no musical experience
made little difference. Indeed, Naymans
offhanded manner of delivering (Dont) Turn
Me Away a winsome slice of synth-pop later
released as Rexys debut single would be one
of many charming things about their music that
can seem both entirely of its moment and utterly
unique. Nayman and Martins collaboration
didnt last much beyond the release of 1981s
Running Out Of Time, but many contemporary
artists have since declared a kinship with the
duos deadpan, leftfield pop. Ariel Pink slipped a
track onto a 2014 mixtape and Brooklyn singer
Samantha Urbani founded a label to reissue
Rexys 10-track debut. If the Young Marble Giants
had recorded a demo for Ze, the result would not
have been dissimilar to the most beguiling music
here, be it the mutant disco exotica of Nervoso
or Alien, a worthy anthem for misfits of any era.
Only the sub-Flying Lizards covers of Heartbreak
Hotel and Johnny B Goode prevent the album
from being as fabulous as its supporters attest.
EXTRAS: None. JASON ANDERSON

Archive
SONIC YOUTH
Washing Machine

VARIOUS
ARTISTS
Studio One
Showcase: The
Sound Of Studio
One In The 1970s

(reissue, 1995)
DGC

Radical adults overlooked


epic reissued on vinyl
If 1994s Experimental Jet Set,
9/10 Trash And No Star was an
abdication from the grunge
zeitgeist that Sonic Youth had been immersed in,
then its follow-up was a kind of rebirth. Indeed,
the New Yorkers found their new direction so
exciting that they seriously considered changing
their band name. Mostly tracked in the relaxed
surroundings of Doug Easleys Memphis studios,
Washing Machine (now wisely just an album title,
and not the groups nom de guerre) saw Sonic
Youth jam out and uncoil, mixing sheets of
swirling, psychedelic guitars with their
customary monstrous noise and hardcore
abandon. The savage moments, like Thurston
Moores angry, impotent Junkies Promise or
Kim Gordons Panty Lies, are fine, but the
quieter, longer tracks are where Washing Machine
really triumphs, pointing the way towards Sonic
Youths more experimental works later in the
decade. Kim Gordon had become bored of playing
bass, so much of the record features a threeguitar-and-drums lineup, the intertwining leads
lending Little Trouble Girl and Unwind a
crystalline intricacy. It all climaxes with one of
the groups most adventurous and moving songs,
The Diamond Sea, which begins in a hushed
languor, but ebbs into its 19th minute on a tidal
wave of extreme, cleansing noise.
EXTRAS: None, but Goo and Dirty are also newly
reissued on heavyweight vinyl.

Golden-age cuts from


the Motown of Jamaica
A linchpin of JA music since the mid-50s, by the
dawn of the 70s, Clement Coxsone Dodd had
already slayed all-comers with his Downbeat
Sound System, shaped the language of ska and
rocksteady, and founded Studio One, a studio
that churned out great music by the cartload.
But as a new decade bedded in, Dodds music
factory had competition from up-and-coming
producers such as King Tubby and Dodds own
former assistant Lee Scratch Perry, who were
transforming Jamaican music with a range of
revolutionary studio techniques. Despite this,
the decade was a boom time for Studio One,
Dodd and his engineers employing cutting-edge
technologies such as syn-drums and tape
looping, and a host of new deejays and singers
passing through the booth. This 18-track comp
merely scratches the surface, but is packed with
gems. Future Massive Attack collaborator
Horace Andy turns out the haunting roots of
See A Mans Face and Sugar Minotts sweetvoiced Have No Fear presages the coming of
lovers rock. Evidence that Dodd knew he had
to keep up with the times, too, is evinced by
updated tracks such as The Gaylads Joy In The
Morning, given tough new backing by his
Brentford session players.
EXTRAS: None.

TOM PINNOCK

LOUIS PATTISON

SOUL JAZZ

8/10

REVELATIONS

THE VELVET
UNDERGOUND
Live At Maxs
Kansas City

Rexys Rex Nayman reflects on


the duos accidental career

RHINO

Rex Neyman has fond memories of her time


as a teenage clubber in the London hotspots
that fostered the New Romantic scene You
were your own creation, she says. Though the
fashion drew the most attention, the scenes
soundtrack was similarly wild and eclectic,
ranging from Kratwerk and Gina X to Jackson
5 and Latin. That diversity was reected in the
askew pop by the duo Nayman formed with Vic
Martin. Both emphasise the casual nature of
the collaboration that yielded Rexys sole album
Recording it was something we did to ll in
time before the pubs opened, Nayman quips.
Despite some Radio 1 airplay and attention in
Europe, Rexys progress was hampered by the
limitations of their label, Alien. They had a
budget of about 20p, laments Nayman.
Ater Rexy sputtered out, Nayman went into
fashion and Martin became a sideman for the
Eurythmics and Gary Moore. Yet Rexys music
has a new life thanks to young admirers like Ariel
Pink and Samantha Urbani. Ive really got into
writing lyrics, says Nayman. We hope to make
a new album as soon as we can! JASON ANDERSON

Lous last VU night


remastered in all
7/10 its messy glory
When Lou Reed played
with the Velvets for the final time at a New York
nightclub on August 23, 1970, Warhol starlet
Brigid Polk taped both sets on a mono cassette
recorder. Through the hiss and noise she
captured the raw energy of the Velvets
garage chug, the very audible ambience of
Maxs as evocative as the music, particularly
when the voice of Basketball Diaries author
Jim Carroll is heard ordering double Pernods
and trying to score. There was always a
suspicion that it was a gag that had been
added later, but Polk insists it was genuine.
Reed introduces Im Waiting For The Man
as a tender folk song about love between
man and subway and then stomps his way
through White Light/White Heat, wobbles
uncertainly on Pale Blue Eyes and Sunday
Morning and trails songs from soon-to-bereleased Loaded, including Lonesome
Cowboy Bill, for some reason featured twice,
while another Loaded song played on the
night Who Loves The Sun has strangely
been omitted.
EXTRAS: None. The five extra tracks in
the billing is misleading: it refers only to the
original 1972 release and ignores the fact that
they were all included on a subsequent two-disc
reissue in 2004.
NIGEL WILLIAMSON

COMING
NEXT
MONTH...
A host of artists
new and old are making
April a promising month
for album releases. For
a start, PJ Harveys
long-awaited ninth
album, The Hope Six
Demolition Project,
is due, and sees Polly Jean and her stalwart
band take a strident look at the problems
of today, both at home and abroad.
Graham Nash releases his rst solo album in
14 years, This Path Tonight, while lm director
turned gigging electronic sensation John
Carpenter unleashes his second solo album,
Lost Themes II. Meanwhile, Mogwai play
their mighty soundtracking hand with Atomic,
a welcome companion to their scores for Les
Revenants and Zidane.
There are strong albums from newer acts,
too, with Cate Le Bons Crab Day, Kevin
Morbys Singing Saw and Woods City Sun
Eater In The River Of Light all excellent,
eccentric eorts.
In the world of reissues, The Cars classic
records are collected in The Elektra Years
1978-1987, while kosmische pioneers Cluster
and Trd, Grs Och Stenar are each the
subject of a lovingly compiled boxset.
Meanwhile, an overlooked gem, Gimmer
Nicholsons Christopher Idylls, receives
a welcome reissue: a
VISIT
UNCUT.CO.UK transportative, dreamy
FOROVER5,000 instrumental guitar album,
ARCHIVED
and the very rst record to be
REVIEWS!
recorded at Ardent Studios.
TOM.PINNOCK@.TIMEINC.COM

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10 A true classic 9 Essential 8 Excellent


7 Very good6 Good 4-5 Mediocre 1-3 Poor

T H I S M O N T H : GEORGE H A R R I S ON T R I BU T E | E U R E K A | HOM EL A N D
Blurredvisionary:
DennisHopperathis
home in New Mexico

emerge. Most striking is how, beneath his exhausted


bluster and posturing, he seems to sense it coming.
Early on, Schiller asks what will happen if The Last
Movie doesnt find an audience. Hopper assures him
it will; then, tellingly, ruminates on Orson Welles,
whom hed recently encountered going cap in hand
around the studios, failing to get funding.
Pressure was building on Hopper. For different
reasons, the acidheads of the counterculture and
the heads of Universal studio were both on his back,
impatient to see his Easy Rider follow-up. Added to
the weight of their expectations were his own. The
Last Movie meant far more to him than Captain
America and Billy. It was a movie hed been
dreaming about
since the early
60s, and a deeply
personal statement
about Hollywoods
destructive effects.
As he started editing,
though, he found it
slipping out of reach.
Originally scheduled
for three months,
it would take him
more than a year to
complete his cut.
Meanwhile, hed
just come out of his
disastrous eight-day
marriage to Michelle
Phillips, and was
looking to sleep with
every woman he
could. Meanwhile again, his appetite for booze and
drugs was tipping into addiction. More than filming
him working on The Last Movie, Carson and Schiller
film Hopper not working on it: firing rifles in the
desert; offering philosophical pearls such as, I
dont believe in reading; and, indeed, bent double
on a broken bed, baring his ass for fondling by a
coterie of 30 naked young women, in a toe-curling
group sensitivity encounter.
Alongside Orson Welles, the other phantom on
Hoppers mind is Charles Manson, whom he admits
having recently visited in jail. At points, filling his
compound with stoned chicks and lecturing them, it
seems as if Hopper, having already grown the beard,
is considering picking up where Manson left off.
Then again, it pays to consider how much Hopper
is playing Dennis Hopper here. Its key to
remember that, behind the camera, Carson
had recently starred in David Holzmans
Diary, the brilliant 1967 mockumentary
that debunked cinma vrit and shared
themes with The Last Movie: namely,
how the very presence of a camera
warps reality, rendering it fake.
Hopper makes the very point in a
scene where he takes Schiller to
task over his invasive filming
a confrontation that was itself
staged. The American Dreamer
isnt simply a significant
documentary about New
Hollywood. With its reflexive
nature, and its nagging
suggestion of something that has
just been missed the impending
sense of we blew it its a key
movie of that wave. See it,
remember the wild Dennis that
was, and hope that, someday, The
Last Movie itself will be released
from limbo.
EXTRAS: None.

THE AMERICAN
DREAMER
STREAMING ON MUBI; BLU-RAY/DVD FROM ETIQUETTE PICTURES

Lost documentary captures Dennis Hoppers bearded


glory before his own wilderness years. By Damien Love
IN THE WINTER of
1970-71, the writer
and actor LM Kit
Carson visited his
friend Dennis
Hoppers house
outside Taos,
in the desert of
New Mexico. Hopper
had just returned
from shooting The Last Movie in Peru and was busy
editing the 48 hours of footage hed brought back.
After five days, Carson was convinced the process
should be documented for posterity. Joining forces
with photographer-turned-director Lawrence
Schiller, the pair returned with a 16mm camera
to shoot a freeform portrait of Hopper in his wild
and lonely kingdom.
By turns excruciating and mesmerising,
embarrassing, sordid and beautiful, the resulting
film has since become legend. Partly because
few other director portraits find the auteur under
observation stripping off and strolling naked along
a suburban sidewalk. And partly because, for
45 years, it has been practically impossible to see.
As part of his countercultural mission statement
and his mission to boost his revolutionary image
Hopper instructed Schiller and Carson only to

8/10

98 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

distribute the film on university campuses. For


decades, then, The American Dreamer existed
only as scratched college prints or bleary
bootlegs. But now, fully restored, the film
will be available on the arthouse video-ondemand service MUBI from February 12 to
March 13; meanwhile, a region-free Blu-ray/
DVD combo has been issued by Etiquette
Pictures in the US.
If The American Dreamer was
envisaged as a countercultural
rallying cry in 1971, what lends it
potency today is our retrospective
knowledge of what came next.
The film ostensibly captures
Hopper at his height, having
shaken the industry with the
phenomenal success of Easy
Rider and poised to make
the film of his dreams.
In fact, though, it freezes him
at the edge of an abyss, about
to experience the careerwrecking commercial
failure of The Last Movie
and enter a wilderness
from which it took a
decade and a half to

POLARIS COMMUNICATIONS, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, PHOTO BY LAWRENCE SCHILLER

Few other
director
portraits find
the auteur
under
observation
strolling
naked along
a sidewalk

COMFORT
AND JOY
STUDIOCANAL

ALASTAIR McKAY

DEUTSCHLAND
83
UNIVERSAL

German spy show


looks back on the Berin
Wall and 80s style
This eight-part German
espionage thriller is set
during the height of the
Cold War, as Reagans
7/10 US began stockpiling
missiles in West
Germany, aiming East
over the Wall. Thrown into the cataclysmic
sabre rattling is Martin (Jonas Nay), a young
East German border guard, bewildered to
find himself a spy, forced into the bright
West to steal military secrets. It lacks the
complexity of the similar, brilliant, 1980s-set
KGB-in-Washington series The Americans,
but the retro styling is easy to watch and a
German take on the period has unique heat.
EXTRAS: Interviews.

6/10 DAMIEN LOVE

EUREKA
EUREKA

Blu-ray debut for


underrated Nic Roeg
blow-out
Alongside his superb
childrens film, The
Witches, this 1982
strangeness stands as
Nic Roegs last fully
8/10 Roegian movie. A surly
Klondike prospector
(Gene Hackman) strikes
it rich in the 1920s; 30 years later, living on
a private Caribbean island, hes washed-up
inside and suspicious of everyone. While
his wife boozes and his daughter (Theresa
Russell) dallies with a gigolo (Rutger Hauer),
hes targeted by Joe Pesci, a gangster who
wants his property. Troubling currents swirl
beneath the surface, with voodoo and Mickey
Rourke on top.
EXTRAS: Booklet, isolated score/effects
7/10 track, trailer.
DAMIEN LOVE

TributetoGeorge:(l-r)
WeirdAlYankovic,Wayne
Coyne,BrandonFlowers,
DhaniHarrison,Jonathan
Bates,attheFondaTheater,
LA, September 28, 2014

Be Here Now, one of


Harrisons most beautiful
meditations on the spiritual
life, makes for an improbable
highlight.
There are exceptions to
the prevailing demographic.
Notably, Brian Wilson slips
HOT RECORDS / VAGRANT
over the age barrier, hand
in hand with Al Jardine, to
Live tribute curated by Dhani Harrison, and
deliver an initially stodgy but
starring Brian Wilson and the Flaming Lips
ultimately rather moving
rendition of My Sweet Lord,
heavy on the teleprompter.
FILMED ON SEPTEMBER 28,
Mostly, however, this is about the children of the
2014, at the Fonda Theater in
70s and 80s paying their respects often a little
Los Angeles, this two-hour
too respectfully. Norah Jones daughter of Ravi
tribute to the Quiet One (an
Shankar, so practically family purrs through
accompanying album is
a sleepily faithful Something. Perry Farrells
being released in various
Here Comes The Sun is sleek but grounded. You
formats) grew from his son
conceivably may not have room in your life for
Dhanis desire to present a
Weird Al Jankovic doing a decidedly un-weird
6/10 small club show where my
What Is Life, or Cold War Kids crucifying
generation of musicians
Taxman, but for every dud the karmic balance
could cut loose on some of the deeper tracks from
is restored with a neatly turned winner. Flaming
his career. The premise allows for an uneven but
Lips wig-out take on Its All Too Much brings
enjoyable alternative to the establishment vibes
some welcome chutzpah to the proceedings, while
of Concert For George, held at the Royal Albert
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club raise dark heat on
Hall in November 2002 on the first anniversary
a grungy Art Of Dying. An ensemble finale of
of Harrisons death, and studded with Messrs
Handle With Care and All Things Must Pass
Clapton, McCartney, Lynne and Petty.
is warm and touching.
George Fest is a looser affair, dominated by
A nicely scruffy souvenir, George Fest is flawed
fans rather than peers. Many of these artists
and fitting testament to the diversity of Harrisons
first came to Harrisons music from unexpected
writing, as well as his long reach. And when a
angles. In one of the brief interview segments that
moustachioed Dhani rocking a very White
punctuate the concert footage, Brandon Flowers
Album look tears through Savoy Shuffle,
reveals that his introduction was the 1987 single
you dont even need to shut your eyes to believe
I Got My Mind Set On You. Onstage, he grins his
his old man might be in the room.
way through it like a competition winner. At the
weightier end of the scale, Ian Astburys sombre
GRAEME THOMSON

GEORGE FEST

A Night To Celebrate The


Music Of George Harrison

HOMELAND
SEASON 5

THE MELVINS
Across The USA in
51 Days: The Movie!

20TH CENTURY FOX HOME


ENTERTAINMENT

Latest instalment of
political thriller series
keeps up the tension
Season 5 of Homeland
found Carrie in
Berlin, working
8/10 security for a billionaire
philanthropist. CIA
enforcer Peter Quinns
in town, too, on a Company-sanctioned killing
spree, Carrie one of his targets. Meanwhile,
radical Berlin hackers have downloaded
compromising CIA files, bringing Saul into
the picture in time to discover top-level
Russian infiltration of the Agency, but whos
the traitor? A terrorist plot only Carrie can foil
further added to the blistering tensions of an
exceptional series of multiple betrayals
and twisted loyalties.
EXTRAS: Documentary, Making Of.

6/10 ALLAN JONES

IPECAC

Hard-rock veterans
laugh at life on tour
In the hands of some
bands, a feat such as
that documented here
a world-record-breaking
7/10 tour calling at every US
state would be presented
as an uplifting tale of
camaraderie and survival against the odds.
Hard-rock freaks The Melvins take a different
approach. Across The USA commences with
each of the group flipping off the camera,
before rubbernecking a flaming pick-up truck
abandoned on the highway. Shot entirely
on mobile phone with each day compressed
into a minute, the result is a patchwork
capturing the drab debauchery of tour-life
with characteristic bone-dry humour.
EXTRAS: None.
LOUIS PATTISON

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

99

JEFF KRAVITZ

A serious Glasgow
comedy, directed
by Bill Forsyth
After the popular
Gregorys Girl (1981) and
Local Hero (1983), director
Bill Forsyth delivered
7/10 a low-key romantic
comedy loosely based
on Glasgows drug-fuelled
ice-cream wars, starring Bill Paterson as
an emotionally adrift local DJ who is
captivated by an ice-cream seller (Clare
Grogan at her most alluring). Less celebrated
than its predecessors, the film has aged
well, not least because of the excellent
cinematography of Chris Menges, who
captures the city in a romantic half-light.
EXTRAS: Interviews with Bill Forsyth,
7/10 Bill Paterson and Clare Grogan.

Films
BY

M ICH A EL BON N ER

This month: Ben Wheatleys


take on JG Ballard is a tower of
strength; Charlie Kaufmans
anomalous latest; the Coens
epicsatire;punksinperil

igh-Rise Considering how deeply

JG Ballards novels have penetrated


popular culture, its surprising how
few have made it to the big screen.
Spielbergs Empire Of The Sun and
Cronenbergs Crash are the most well-known,
but theres also Jonathan Weiss rarely screened
1999 adaptation of The Atrocity Exhibition, and
Aparelho Voador A Baixa Altitude a PortugueseSwedish co-production based on a short story,
Low-Flying Aircraft. Previously, Nic Roeg,
Paul Mayersberg and Bruce Robinson have
all toiled unsuccessfully to film Ballards 1975
breakthrough novel, High-Rise. In the event, Ben
Wheatley has finally brought it to cinemas in his
first major work since A Field In England: another
piece about a very English type of psychosis.
Wheatley envisions High-Rise as an occult,
psychedelic seizure; nowhere near as coldly
alarming as Ballards book, but horrific in its own
way. The story takes place in a newly built tower
block whose occupants turn on one another when
the buildings systems begin to fail. After a prim,
orderly beginning, where Tom Hiddlestons Dr
Robert Laing moves into the tower, Wheatley lets
reality slip away a Regency fancy-dress party; a
white horse clip-clopping across the roof-terrace
garden; a car park full of burned-out cars before
pitting floor against floor in all-out block war.
Hiddleston resembling Low-era Bowie
makes Laing detached and indifferent, a coolly
immaculate cipher for the films events. Around
him orbits Luke Evans documentary-maker
Richard Wilder, who responds viscerally to the
building-wide mayhem. As the blocks architect,
Jeremy Irons is at his most Jeremy Irons
inscrutable, implacable. Sienna Miller, as
Laings free-spirited neighbour, is one of the few
characters who seem able to navigate the twisting
psychological landscape inside the tower.
Elsewhere, James Purefoy and Reece Shearsmith
deliver grotesque comic performances.
Portisheads stately cover of ABBAs SOS soundtracks a montage of freewheeling chaos. Wheatley
may lack Ballards satirical edge the issues of
class that percolate the novel have been sidelined,
for instance but his devilish glee is infectious.

Tall story: Tom


Hiddleston in
Ben Wheatleys
High-Rise

Anomalisa The principal characters


in Charlie Kaufmans previous films have
traditionally been alienated outsider figures,
struggling to connect with themselves and their
environment. In his last film, Synecdoche, New
York, Philip Seymour Hoffmans disaffected
theatre director built a gigantic set to emulate New
York and instructed his cast to improvise entire
lives. For Kaufmans latest project, he goes one
step further. His lead, Michael Stone (David
Thewlis), is a typical Kaufman creation: an author
and inspirational speaker whose life is in crisis.
His marriage is in slow decline and he has no
connection with his son. In Cincinnati for a
conference, he looks up an old flame, Bella,
considering an affair. The hotel he is staying in
is called the Al Fregoli, which is important: in
fregoli syndrome, a person holds a delusional
belief that those around them are in fact a single
tormentor who is able to change appearance or is
in disguise. I think I might have psychological
problems, Michael explains to Lisa. Its hard to
explain. Ive been running for a long time now.
Things kind of shifted.
Some disclosure, at this point. Anomalisa is a
stop-motion film. The project originated in 2005 as
part of Carter Burwells Theatre Of The New Ear
series of sound plays. The cast consisted of David
Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan;

who all appear in this film version, co-directed


by Kaufman and Duke Johnson. Critically, to
represent the fug in which Michael now resides,
all the characters he interacts with look and
sound identical (voiced by Noonan). There are
precedents, of course: you might recall the
roomful of identical Malkoviches in Kaufmans
debut, Being John Malkovich.
In this instance, though, the effect is disturbing
rather than funny. Michaels fugue has left him
isolated from the rest of the world: no wonder
he can no longer recognise individual
characteristics. Alone in his hotel bathroom, his
face begins to crack and you imagine it is about to
fall off to reveal bland, smooth features identical
to the other faces around him. Only Jennifer Jason
Leighs Lisa stands out. Jesus, someone else!
Michael exclaims when he first hears her,
instantly and inexplicably recognising her as an
anomaly an anomalisa, in fact who jolts him
from his doldrums. Kaufmans superb film once
again finds this idiosyncratic creator discovering
new ways to explore complex human conditions
love and loneliness chief among them.

Hail, Caesar! In 1991s Barton Fink, the


Coen brothers put a lowly Hollywood screenwriter
through the ringer. The Coens revisit that films
fictional studio, Capitol Pictures, in their new one,

Reviewed this month...


HIGH-RISE

ANOMALISA

HAIL, CAESAR!

GREEN ROOM

MOJAVE

Director Ben
Wheatley
Starring Tom
Hiddleston,
Jeremy Irons
Opens March 18
Cert 15

Directors
Charlie Kaufman,
Duke Johnson
Starring David
Thewlis, Jennifer
Jason Leigh
Opens March 11
Cert 15

Directors Joel
and Ethan Coen
Starring Josh
Brolin, George
Clooney
Opens March 4
Cert 12A

Director
Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Imogen
Poots, Patrick
Stewart
Opens May 13
Cert 18

Director
William Monahan
Starring Oscar
Isaac, Garrett
Headlund
Opens March 25
Cert 15

8/10

7/10

6/10

8/10

9/10

100 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Films
who knew Channing Tatum could do tap? and
the Coens impressively juggle an ensemble cast
that also includes Scarlett Johansson, Frances
McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Michael Gambon.

Green Room Blue Ruin, the previous

Hail, Caesar!. Although the action takes place in


1951 a decade later than Barton Fink Joel and
Ethan are still intent on making life miserable
for their latest protagonist: Eddie Mannix
(Josh Brolin), the studios head of physical
production, who endures a litany of woes
including a kidnapping, a pregnant leading lady,
catty gossip columnists and the capricious
decisions handed down by his unseen superior.
For their last few films, the Coens appear to
have drawn inspiration from their own formative
experiences. A Serious Man (2009) outlined a
midlife crisis in the American Midwest in the
1960s, which happens to be where and when the
Coens themselves were raised. Meanwhile, 2013s
Inside Llewyn Davis was a portrait of a New York
folk singer whose career was entwined with
another, Bob Dylan; another son of the Coens
home state, Minnesota. The 1950s setting for
Hail, Caesar! coincides with the Coens own early
cinema trips. You suspect that growing up they
would have seen films like the ones represented
here: the musical top-lined by song-and-dance
man Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), the period
drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph
Fiennes) or the folksy Western starring downhome rodeo star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich).
In that respect, Hail, Caesar! feels as much like a
warm tribute to the studio pictures of the Coens
youth as it does an exuberant comedy in its own
right. Mannixs principal concern is finding the
whereabouts of Baird Whitlock (George Clooney),
the studios biggest star, who has gone missing
from the set of Hail, Caesar (subtitle: A Tale Of
The Christ), a sword-and-sandals epic loosely
modelled on Ben-Hur. He suspects foul play,
which leads him to a group of Communist writers
(Were for the little guy), a nod to Dalton
Trumbos political activities during the same
period. The films within films are expertly done

film from writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, was a


grubby, low-key revenge drama that showcased
not only Saulniers love for genre films but also his
ingenuity working with a minuscule budget. For
Green Room, he stays deep in genre territory. It
is essentially a spin on hillbilly horror, where a
touring punk band find themselves at the mercy
of a bunch of backwoods neo-Nazis led (perhaps
improbably) by Patrick Stewart. The references are
explicit The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills
Have Eyes, Straw Dogs but Saulniers strength is
breathing new life into this familiar set-up.
The Aint Rights (influences: Misfits Poison
Idea Sabbath, Ozzy and Dio) are a struggling
punk band, barely able to scrape together funds to
self-release a 7-inch. While on tour, a show is
cancelled and to scrape back some cash, they
accept a sketchy engagement to play a matinee
show in a bar in remote Oregon. The clientele,
they are warned, are right wing, technically
ultra-left. Dont talk politics. In a surprisingly bold
gambit, the band begin their set with a cover of
Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Amazingly, it doesnt get
them killed.
Instead it is the accidental discovery of a murder
scene in the venues green room that puts the
lives of bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam
(Alia Shawkat), singer Tiger (Callum Turner) and
drummer Reece (Joe Cole) on the line. Barricaded
in the green room, help comes from an unexpected
source a neo-Nazi (Imogen Poots) who is trapped
with them. Outside, meanwhile, Patrick Stewarts
gimlet-eyed gruppenfhrer calls in the attack dogs.
At 94 minutes, Saulnier keeps the focus tight.

Mojave Judging by his scripts for The


Departed, Body Of Lies and Kingdom Of Heaven,
William Monahans writing is concerned
with what happens to men under pressure in
extraordinary circumstances. Men doing man
things, basically, be they deep-cover policemen,
conflicted CIA operatives or Crusader knights.
Mojave Monahans second film as writer/
director after the dismal London Boulevard
adds to this list a listless Hollywood star (Garrett
Hedlund), who is taunted by a murderous vagrant
(Oscar Isaac). The story begins in the Mojave
desert, where Hedlunds Tom retreats for a period
of self-discovery. There, he crosses paths with
Isaacs Jack, who we can tell is the bad guy by his
fondness for quoting Melville and John Stuart
Mill. Jack follows Thomas back to Beverly Hills,
where he insinuates his way into Thomas life.
Murder and some long speeches follow.
Monahans intention to balance a Cape Fearstyle cat-and-mouse thriller with a potshot at
Hollywood privilege isnt entirely successful,
though touches of welcome dark humour flash
through the script. Hedlund who seems to be
channelling Brad Pitts slacker in Kalifornia is
comprehensively acted off-screen by Isaac. The
sole reason to see Mojave, his acting is entirely off
the scale as he chews his way gamely through
Monahans tough-guy reveries.

Also out...
STRETCH AND BOBBITO:
RADIO THAT CHANGED LIVES
OPENS FEBRUARY 26
Doc about the late-night DJs whose 90s
radio show was instrumental in showcasing
emerging hip-hop acts including Jay Z,
Eminem and the Wu-Tang Clan.

LONDON HAS FALLEN


OPENS MARCH 3
The British PM is dead. Westminster
Abbey blown up. Only Gerard Butler
and his steely gaze can save the day.

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT
OPENS MARCH 4
Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson
and others discuss the legacy of Hitch and
Truffaut. Reviewed last issue.

TIME OUT OF MIND


OPENS MARCH 4
Richard Gere is a homeless man in New
York. New film from Oren Moverman,
screenwriter of Dylan biopic Im Not There.

TRUTH
OPENS MARCH 4
Drama with Robert Redford as 60 Minutes
anchor Dan Rather, investigating
then-president George W Bush.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
OPENS MARCH 14
Cousin to the JJ Abrams-produced foundfootage monster movie; a young woman
wakes up in an underground shelter with
only John Goodman for company.
Rock The Kasbah

ROCK THE KASBAH


OPENS MARCH 18
Bill Murrays washed-up band manager
ends up in Kabul where his fortunes appear
to change. Barry Levinson directs.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN:
DAWN OF JUSTICE
OPENS MARCH 25
Comic-book smackdown intended to rival
Marvels Avengers superhero ensemble
franchise. Ben Affleck is our new Batman.

SPEED SISTERS
OPENS MARCH 25
Excellent doc following the challenges
faced by the only all-women car-racing
team in Palestine. Reviewed last issue.

WELCOME TO ME
OPENS MARCH 25
Kristen Wiigs mentally ill lottery winner
drops her medication and uses her wealth
to star in an autobiographical talk show.

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

101

ROCKING IN THE FREE WORLD

TAME IMPALA
VORST NATIONAAL, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, JANUARY 30, 2016

Yes Im changing! Can Kevin Parker turn the


cult of lonerism into stadium rock?

ALEX VANHEE

ITH LAST YEARS


Currents, Kevin Parker
largely threw out the
playful psychedelic rock
of Tame Impalas first two
albums and went electronic. This was no glitchy,
Kid A-esque left-turn; instead, Parker claims that
he attempted to channel the euphoric feel of
Goan beach raves, with a view to hearing his

102 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

music played in clubs. The commercial success


of Currents, however more than 120,000 copies
sold in the US so far has meant that Parker and
his band have instead headed straight for arenas.
Tonight, they have packed out the Vorst
Nationaal, a cavernous 8,000-capacity space
on Brussels southern edge. This being a postBataclan Europe, security is tight, and gunpacking police mill around by the bars and food

stalls in the busy lobby. It is a curiously


impersonal place to see a band whose music is
so much the product of one man; indeed, with
Parker playing every instrument on Currents,
along with taking on production, engineering
and mixing duties, the sound of Tame Impala
very much emanates from a private, personal
space, not the sort of place where you have to
shell out 50 cents to use the toilet. Eight-thousand
people is quite a crowd to invite inside your mind,
especially when youve named your second
album Lonerism, and yet Parker seems to enjoy
the novelty, saying: We dont often get to play
in places as amazing and circular as this.
Tame Impala have brought along a
considerable, kaleidoscopic light show and
back projections to make up for Parkers lack of
conventional presence. When the lights dim at
9pm, an oscilloscope traces a wild pattern on the
backdrop, spinning faster and faster, until the

Guitar-free
zone: Parker with
Dominic Simper

During the more


electronic moments
in the set, guitarist
Dominic Simper joins
Ponds Jay Watson on
keyboards, and Parker
abandons his guitar,
enabling the lineup to
really capture the lush
analogue sweep of
Yes Im Changing.
The guitars are
brought back for preCurrents material, with
the glammy stomp of
Elephant a highlight.
Perhaps as a nod to the
grand arenas theyre
Trippingthelight:
KevinParkerof
now performing in,
TameImpala
Barbagallos brief
drum solo in the song
is newly extended
at about 10 seconds,
SET LIST
though, this is hardly
1 Intro/Let It Happen
Toad territory.
2 Mind Mischief
There are some
3 Why Wont They Talk To Me?
concessions to the size
of the venues Tame
4 It Is Not Meant To Be
group, clustered tightly in the centre
Impala
are now playing
5 The Moment
of the large stage, rip into the sublime
in, though. At one
6 Elephant
Let It Happen. Whereas Tame
point, a solo Parker
7 Yes Im Changing
Impalas previous epics such as
generates abstract,
8 The Less I Know The Better
Apocalypse Dreams took
fragmented guitar
9 Eventually
inspiration from the trippier,
noise, his playing
10 Alter Ego
psychedelic likes of Pink Floyd, the
tracked by the giant
seven minutes of Let It Happen
oscilloscope on the
11 Cause Im A Man
twist and turn like a 12-inch remix,
screen behind him.
12 Apocalypse Dreams
the groove looping mechanically
A sort of psych-rock
13 Feels Like We Only
until a new beat drops and the song
equivalent of Freddie
Go Backwards
enters a parallel realm, with Parker
Mercurys Day-oh
14 New Person, Same
singing through a Vocoder and
nonsense, its the
Old Mistakes
playing funky, fuzzy lead guitar.
kind of spectacle
Throughout their set, the five-piece
that can only work
impressively replicate the studio-bound textures
in places this size, but its undeniably
that fill Currents; The Moment is as slick and
entertaining. Likewise, Parkers attempt
propulsive as it is on record, while drummer
to spark a singalong on Feels Like We Only Go
Julien Barbagallo nails the crisp beats of
Backwards is another successful, if slightly
Eventually and The Less I Know The Better.
uneasy, moment of showmanship.

The sheer emotion and


feeling of inclusivity in
Tame Impalas music is
enough to fill spaces like
these several times over
The songs themselves hold the attention,
though; the swelling synths, fuzz leads and
glacial pace of slow jam Cause Im A Man
perfectly suit the echoey space, while
Eventually, backed by rainbow fractals, sees
hands in the air in the pit and hordes of people
standing on the balconies. Strange scenes for
such sensitive, unbombastic songs, over which
Parker sings of loneliness, break-ups, alienation
and disappointment, with the quiet resignation
of an everyman: They say people never change,
he sings sadly on Yes Im Changing, but thats
bullshit/They do. The crowd tonight are perhaps
shocked that the intensely personal music thats
soothed them from their earphones is now being
broadcast through an enormous PA, but it has
a euphoric effect. As such, when Parker moves
forward to greet the front row of the pit, theres
a real sense of an emotional connection taking
place, and not just stadium glad-handing.
If more evidence of Tame Impalas surprising
infiltration of the mainstream were needed,
Rihannas cover of Currents closer, New Person,
Same Old Mistakes, on the recent Anti provides
it. As a nod to her version, the group close the set
with the song, which they debuted, sparkling and
bass-heavy, the previous night in Amsterdam.
For someone who admits theyre happiest in
their home studio, it seems as if the frontman
could get used to these larger stages. While hes
too shy and retiring ever to be a strong presence
on stage, the sheer emotion and feeling of
inclusivity in Tame Impalas music is more than
enough to fill spaces like these several times over.
As Parker says on Yes Im Changing, If you dont
think its a crime you can come along, with me.
TOM PINNOCK

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

103

Live
SET LIST
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

The Sweetest Girl


Day Late And A Dollar Short
Die Alone
The Word Girl
The Boom Boom Bap
Jacques Derrida/Come Clean
Oh Patti
Brushed With Oil,
Dusted With Powder
9 Asylums In Jerusalem
10 Skank Bloc Bologna
11 28/8/78
12 New album excerpts:
I Wrote This Song For Today/
You Dont Love/Hair Pull/
Slyday Morning/Two Years
Ago/Mother Succubus/I
Wrote This Song For Today
(Reprise)
13 Petrococadollar
14 Wood Beez
15 Absolute
ENCORE
16 Slow Deceit
17 Untitled

SCRITTI POLITTI
LONDON ROUNDHOUSE, FEBRUARY 5, 2016

Songs To (Try To) Remember: the anxious, ultimately


heroic return of Green Gartside

JOHN WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHY

MMACULATELY DRESSED
IN denim, with fantastic
Day-Glo trainers, you would
never guess Scritti Politti
auteur Green Gartside was a
day over 45 let alone 60. However,
as he drops his guitar, struggles to
reattach its strap and gets tangled in
cable before he has played a note, it
is not immediately obvious that he
was ever a pop star, either.
With you in a minute, he
promises, a bandmate answering
his distress flare.
Pause. Scrabbling.
Two minutes and Ill be with you.
Scritti Politti observers have
learned to be patient. Over a career
approaching the 38-year mark,
Gartside has only finished five LPs;
a measure perhaps of the frantic
psychological foot-pedalling going
on beneath the waterline of their
swan-smooth music.
Since 1980, Scritti have barely
played live, barring a smattering
of shows to accompany their most
recent album, 2006s twinkly and

104 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

perverse White Bread Black Beer.


This one-off date as part of the
Roundhouses In The Round season
marks the elegant live debuts of a
good number of Scritti classics
not least 1982s dub dissertation
Asylums In Jerusalem and its
squatter-funk flipside, Jacques
Derrida. His relatively easy
between-song chatter, however,
cannot mask the anxiety that
underpins his performances
eyes clamped shut, fists clenching
and unclenching.
Scrittis music was rarely as smooth
as it sounded. In their 1980s pomp,
when Green looked like Princess
Diana, major international hits such
as Wood Beez and Absolute
emerged from a tortuous process
of philosophical debate and selfflagellation. Introducing 1981s
The Sweetest Girl the first song
he wrote aiming at a mainstream
audience Gartside reminisces
about squatting in Camden, going to
Young Communist Party meetings
and mens groups, the purpose of

which were to spend an hour


discussing mens inherent
unworthiness. In that context, simply
writing a song called The Sweetest
Girl was dangerously transgressive.
Emboldened when that indie
single reached No 64 in the proper
charts, Greens entryist pop
experiments became grander,

A picture of
determination,
Gartside wears
his torments as
lightly as he can
breakthrough album Cupid & Psyche
85 perfecting a candyfloss sound that
referenced smooth soul and lovers
rock, with nods to Roland Barthes,
William Empson and Friedrich

Nietzche all namechecked tonight.


Aiming higher still for 1988s ultrasophisticated Provision, Gartside
suffered a nervous collapse, the
refrain of the LPs standout 45, Oh
Patti originally featuring Miles
Davis, and also given its live debut
tonight proving cruelly prescient:
He only wants the world to love him,
then he goes and spoils it all.
Based in America at his giddy peak
(he recalls meeting Kraftwerks Ralf
Htter and Florian Schneider at a Tito
Puente concert in New York We
hate reggae, they told him), Gartside
had retreated back to his native
Wales by the time 1999s hybrid
hip-hop LP Anomie & Bonhomie was
completed. Introducing Brushed
With Oil, Dusted With Powder from
that record, Gartside remembers that
he started writing the song in a
Hollywood hotel using a guitar that
belonged to Joni Mitchell, and
finished it in a flat above a dentists
surgery in Newport.
Now resettled in London, Gartside
seems to have found what passes
for contentment, and while rapture
greets oldies like 1978 debut single
Skank Bloc Bologna Uptown
Top Ranking meets Public Image
and wallflowers floor-filler
Absolute at the Roundhouse, he
can take further encouragement
from the reception accorded to a
medley of fragments from an as-yet
unrecorded sixth Scritti album.
A picture of determination,
Gartside wears his torments as lightly
as he can. His choirboy-pitched
singing tone several agonising
octaves up from his speaking voice,
he stumbles and fumbles with lyric
sheets (I never have learned the
lyrics to any of my songs, he admits)
and turns away shaking his head
more than once. The only person,
perhaps, who spends this night of
triumph wishing it was over.
JIM WIRTH

LIVE
TEL: 020 3148 2873 FAX: 020 3148 8160
24'5'065

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BY

A LLA N JON E S

Reviewed this month...

Trouble Boys: The


True Story Of The
Replacements
Bob Mehr
DA CAPO

9/10

Small Town Talk:


Bob Dylan, The Band,
Van Morrison, Janis
Joplin,JimiHendrix&
FriendsInWoodstock
Barney Hoskyns
FABER

8/10

AS THERE EVER a band so


utterly scared of success as The
Replacements they effectively
scuppered their own career?
On the evidence of Bob Mehrs

tremendous Trouble Boys: The True Story Of


The Replacements, it seems unlikely. A bunch of
reckless Minneapolis delinquents inspired by punk,
fuelled by a legendary intake of drugs and alcohol
and led by Paul Westerberg, the raw-voiced laureate
of pre-grunge teenage nihilism, The Replacements
could have been what REM became with Green and
Nirvana and Pearl Jam became with Nevermind
and Ten. Whatever opportunity they were offered,
however, they abused, systematically and
deliberately. They were endlessly needy, but

114 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

incapable of doing
anything for themselves,
except getting stoned and
drunk, at which they were
experts, no help needed
there. When things went
wrong, which they
inevitably did, they
turned on everyone
around them. Managers,
agents, producers, label
brass were all bullied,
humiliated, terrorised
or sacked, most notably
original champion Peter
Cowboy Song:
Jesperson. When the band
The Authorised
turned on itself, things
Biography Of
got even uglier.
Philip Lynott
What made them so
Graeme Thomson
dysfunctional? Their
CONSTABLE
backgrounds had a lot
7/10
to do with it. They were
children of broken homes,
alcoholic parents and
families with histories of mental illness, depression
and suicide, high-school drop-outs with uncertain
futures brought together by their love of rowdy
rocknroll. Westerberg was a mass of insecurities
with a pathological aversion to being told what to
do, who feared rejection more than failure, which
made him mock his own ambition and doubt his
own talent. Guitarist Bob Stinson was physically
and sexually abused by his stepfather, which
accelerated the alcoholism, staggering drug abuse
and mental-health problems that led first to his
estrangement from the band hed formed, then his
early death. He was such a broken kid at such a
young age, says his half-brother Tommy, who,
when he started on bass with The Replacements,
was a cocky 12-year-old wise guy who sounded,

according to Westerberg, like a little girl and


played like a motherfucker.
Mehr spent a decade piecing together this
brilliant biography, which is full of hair-raising
anecdotes, dozens of new interviews and much
painfully frank, often hilarious commentary from
Westerberg and Tommy Stinson. Its a gory story on
most fronts, recalled in sometimes excruciating
detail that takes us up to 2015s potentially lucrative
reunion tour, which Westerberg abandoned a
couple of days after two fraught shows at Londons
Roundhouse, a predictably unhappy ending to a
career sometimes full of great music but more often
dire disappointment.
A decade after chronicling the LA music
scene in Hotel California, Barney Hoskyns turns a
wonderfully attentive eye to an equivalent late 60s
East Coast music community that flourished in the
Catskill Mountains of upper New York State, only
hours from Manhattan. Small Town Talk is a
history of the Woodstock scene that developed
around Bob Dylan and his manager, Albert
Grossman, who on a visit there in 1963 fell enough
in love with the place to start buying large chunks
of it, which over time would house restaurants, a
theatre, the Bearsville recording complex.
There had been a rural arts colony in Woodstock
since the early 1900s, bohemian types mixing
as uneasily with the local townspeople as the
Greenwich Village folkies who were already settling
in when Grossman first blew into town, Woodstock
becoming even more famous as a countercultural
landmark after it gave its name to the 1969 festival
that was actually held in Bethel, 60 miles away. This
was too close for Dylan, whod moved to Woodstock
with his family in 1966, to recuperate from the drugaddled rigours of the world tour that had recently
nearly killed him. By the end of the year, he was
back in New York, his rural idyll shattered by
intrusive fans. Because Dylan and Grossman are so
central to the Woodstock narrative, the first third of
the book is necessarily devoted to Dylans retreat
into bucolic family life, the arrival of The Hawks,
soon to become The Band, the sessions that
produced The Basement Tapes and subsequently
The Bands Music From Big Pink, Dylans motorcycle
accident and his eventual falling-out with and split
from Grossman. This is all familiar stuff, so its a
relief when Van Morrison turns up, followed by Janis
Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Todd Rundgren. The book
takes off at this point, Woodstocks heyday fondly
and colourfully remembered.
Good music continued to be made there after
Dylan split, but by the early-70s the place was
swimming in cocaine and heroin, the tragic spoilers
of the hippy dream, everyone left there as washed
up as the town would soon become, Grossmans
empire falling finally into ruin and neglect. Much as
Woodstock declined when these stars either moved
on or died, Small Town Talk is also diminished by
their absence. You wont believe how much air goes
out of the book when the local population seemingly
dwindles to Marshall Crenshaw and Graham Parker.
Graeme Thomsons Cowboy Song: The
Authorised Biography Of Philip Lynott casts
the tight-trousered former Thin Lizzy leader as a
tragic romantic hero, a rocknroll wild man with
a poets soul, his troubled sensitivity obscured
by a swashbuckling image and much macho
posturing. Thomson risks the ridicule of Thin Lizzy
agnostics, for whom the band was never more than
boorish, but this is a genuinely sympathetic portrait.
Thomson writes well about Lynotts illegitimate,
mixed-race childhood in Manchester and Dublin,
the Dublins 60s bohemian scene that nurtured
him and his early attempts to become the star he
always believed himself to be and briefly was.
Thin Lizzy were together for 13 years, but their
heyday seems brief, their decline precipitous
and personally humiliating, as Lynotts addictions
to booze, cocaine, whatever was going escalated
out of control and eventually killed him in 1986,
his life by then in ruins.

GREG HELGESON

oks

Appetiteforselfdestruction:(l-r)The
ReplacementsPaul
Westerbergand
Tommy Stinson

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OBITUARIES

PAUL KANTNER
Jefferson Airplane singer/guitarist
(1941-2015)

Kantner:the
catalystthat
madethealchemy
happen

with another couple of LPs, Sunfighter, and 1973s Baron Von Tollbooth And
The Chrome Nun. Reunited with Balin two years later, Jefferson Starships
Red Octopus was a major success, nudged along by huge US hit, Miracles.
Come the start of the 80s, and having broken up with
Slick, Kantner was the only remaining original member.
He carried on with assorted lineups until 1984, when
he suddenly left mid-tour, arguing that the band had
become too commercial. A subsequent court case over
rights to the groups name resulted in his old cohorts
being forced to truncate themselves to Starship.
Kantner and Balin resurrected Jefferson Starship in
1992, though the latter had dropped out by the time of
their final album, 2008s Jeffersons Tree Of Liberty.
Kantner continued to play with the group until his death
from multiple organ failure and septic shock as the
result of a heart attack. Paying tribute, Kaukonen remembered him fondly
as the catalyst that made the alchemy happen His dedication to the
Airplanes destiny as he saw it was undeniable.

He was the groups


guiding force,
give or take the
odd sabbatical,
for 40-plus years

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

117

DON PAULSEN/MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

S THE MOST durable member of


Jefferson Airplane, Paul Kantner did
more than anyone to preserve the
bands remarkable legacy. The
singer-guitarist helped detonate the
acid-rock explosion of the 60s, co-creating the
West Coasts signature sound and its lyrical
preoccupations with sci-fi, politics and esoterica.
When the Airplane split in 1972, Kantner and
partner Grace Slick, dubbed the psychedelic
John and Yoko by Rolling Stone, continued as
Jefferson Starship. He remained the groups
guiding force, give or take the odd sabbatical,
for the next 40-plus years.
The only San Francisco native in the Airplanes
core ranks, Kantner became fascinated with
science fiction while at Jesuit military boarding
school. He also developed a rebellious streak
that fed directly into his ambition to emulate Pete
Seeger as a folk-protest singer. A residency at San
Franciscos Drinking Gourd led to Kantner hooking
up with singer Marty Balin in the summer of 1965.
Balin was forming a house band for his new club,
The Matrix, upon which Kantner suggested
bringing in guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, a friend from
his days at San Jose College. The first meaningful
iteration of Jefferson Airplane eventually fell into
place with co-singer Signe Anderson (who died on
the same day as Kantner see page 119), drummer
Skip Spence and bassist Jack Casady.
Kantner co-wrote four songs on 1966 debut LP
Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, taking lead vocals on
Let Me In. With Anderson and Spence replaced
by Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, the following
years Surrealistic Pillow was a countercultural
landmark that stood as the fullest expression yet
of the Bay Areas bohemian new ideal. Kantners
creativity began to take fresh form too, most
notably on D.C.B.A.-25, which he described as
an LSD-inspired romp through consciousness.
By the end of 1967, with the release of After
Bathing At Baxters, hed superseded Balin as the bands chief songwriter.
One of the albums standouts was Kantners The Ballad Of You And Me And
Pooneil, a trippy rocker with shining harmonies that referenced AA Milne
and Fred Neil. His sci-fi sensibilities came to the fore on
the title track of 1968s Crown Of Creation, inspired by
John Wyndhams The Chrysalids, while follow-up
Volunteers was more politically charged. Of particular
concern for their RCA bosses was Kantners We Can Be
Together, whose lyrics borrowed from the Black
Panthers revolutionary maxim: Up against the wall,
motherfucker. The record also included the utopian
vision of Wooden Ships, co-written by Kantner with
David Crosby and Stephen Stills.
During a lull in Airplane activity in 1970, Kantner, Slick
and various high-profile chums recorded Blows Against
The Empire, credited to Kantner and Jefferson Starship. His relationship
with Slick, meanwhile, had become more than merely professional. Their
daughter, China, was born in January 71. The pair cemented their union

OBITUARIES
MAURICE
WHITE
Earth, Wind & Fire frontman
(1941-2016)

GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES; JEREMY FLETCHER/REDFERNS

AURICE WHITE FIRST


discovered the kalimba, or
African thumb piano, during
his time as percussionist in
The Ramsey Lewis Trio in
the late 60s. The instruments playful,
melodious warmth was unveiled on 1969s
Another Voyage, one of nine albums White
recorded with the group, though it would
go on to achieve much greater resonance in
another project that he initiated that year.
Teaming up with Chicago buddies Don
Whitehead and Wade Flemons, White formed
The Salty Peppers and secured a deal with
Columbia. It would, however, require a
change of location (Los Angeles) and name
(Earth, Wind & Fire, in honour of Whites
astrological chart), as well as additional personnel, before they became
a major commercial proposition.
Guided by White, who also acted as producer, Earth, Wind & Fires
exuberant synthesis of funk, jazz, RnB and gospel music served as souls

chief signifier throughout the 70s and early


80s. Much of their appeal was down to the
contrasting voices of White and Philip Bailey
(tenor and falsetto, respectively), allied to the
infectious rhythms of the kalimba and brass
section, the Phenix Horns. Earth, Wind & Fire
racked up more than 90 million sales and
won six Grammys, fuelled by such mega-hits
as Shining Star, After The Love Has Gone
and Lets Groove. Inducted into the Rock
And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000, White used
the occasion to reveal hed been suffering
from Parkinsons disease for the best part
of a decade, a condition that had led to him
opting out of touring in 1994. He did,
nevertheless, continue to have executive
control over the band.
Having begun his professional life as a
session
drummer at Chess Records, backing
Firestarter:
blues royalty like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy
EW&Ffounder
MauriceWhite,
and Etta James, White enjoyed further
withkalimba,
success as a hired hand during his heyday.
liveinOntario,
California, 1974
In 1976 he and Charles Stepney co-produced
This Is Niecy, the debut from Deniece
Williams, which yielded a UK No 1 in the
shape of Free. Williams would go on to make four more albums for Whites
Kalimba Productions. He also oversaw recordings by The Emotions (among
them the Earth, Wind & Fire collaboration Boogie Wonderland), Barbra
Streisand, Atlantic Starr and Neil Diamond.

Stones/
Yardbirds
promoter
Gomelsky
in 1964

GIORGIO GOMELSKY
Crawdaddy Club owner and impresario
(1934-2016)

N ACCORDING TO THE ROLLING STONES, Keith Richards


remembered Giorgio Gomelsky as a dedicated nonconformist really good at organising and making
something of the Stones, even though it was still on a very
small scale. Giorgio was the one who focused it Under
Gomelskys patronage, in 1963 the Stones secured a weekly
residency at the Crawdaddy, an RnB club that he ran from the
back room of Richmonds Station Hotel. It was from there that
the Stones legend swiftly grew, partly thanks to Gomelskys
promotional gimmick of offering punters two entries for the price
of one. Among those who poured in was teenager Andrew Loog
Oldham, who promptly took over the bands promotional and
managerial duties.
The Crawdaddy Club nevertheless continued to grow, moving to
a new location up the road and replacing the Stones with another
new house band, The Yardbirds. Perhaps mindful of the Stones
experience, Gomelsky was more hands-on this time, renting them
a flat in Kew, sending them out on tour with Sonny Boy Williamson
and brokering a record deal with Columbia. In addition, he produced
the groups 1964 debut, Five Live Yardbirds. It was an association that
lasted until 1966, with Gomelsky also helming classic 45s such as
Shapes Of Things and Evil Hearted You.
He subsequently started his own label, Marmalade Records,
which served as a stable for Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, The Blossom
Toes and, prefiguring 10cc, a fledgling outfit that included Graham
Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. Gomelsky recorded
The Soft Machines early demos, too, managed Steampacket
(featuring a young Rod Stewart) and produced John McLaughlins
1969 debut, Extrapolation. By the 70s he was working with prog
outfits Gong and Magma, before relocating to New York, where
he set up his own studio in Chelsea.
Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Italy and Switzerland,
Gomelsky was a visionary who was initially drawn to Britain
by the thriving jazz scene of the 50s. Flamboyant, worldly and a
bon vivant, was how ex-Yardbird Eric Clapton described him in
his self-titled autobiography, adding that Gomelsky had a fantastic
ear for talent. He did an incredible amount of work for the early
English RnB scene.

118 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Mott The Hoople drummer


(1948-2016)

ALE GRIFFIN ONCE suggested that he was drawn to the


music business against his own better judgement. Before I
became a professional musician everything warned against
doing anything like that, he explained. Music hypnotises
you and perhaps against your will you must do it.
Ultimately though, it was a decision he never came to regret. As the
powerfully agile drummer of Mott The Hoople,
Griffin rode the bands ascent from 60s cult
GriffininBasing
rockers to 70s glam superstars. And, despite
StreetStudios,
August 10, 1971
the onset of the Alzheimers disease that
eventually claimed his life, he was able to
savour Motts unexpected renaissance in
later years, when they reunited for a series
of 40th-anniversary gigs in 2009.
Griffin and friend Overend Watts started out
in local bands as teenagers in Ross-on Wye. By
1968 they were both gigging in The Shakedown
Sound, soon to become Silence, augmented by
guitarist Mick Ralphs and keyboard player
Verden Allen. A move to London the following
year coincided with an introduction to Islands
record producer Guy Stevens, who changed
their name to Mott The Hoople and auditioned
a new singer, Ian Hunter. The bands riotous
early shows, in which their chaotic rocknroll
was grounded by the forceful rhythm section
of Griffin and Watts, brought them a small,
fiercely devoted fanbase.
Alas, this didnt translate into record sales.
Frustrations reached a head in March 1972,
when Griffin and Hunter traded blows onstage
in Switzerland. With the band supposedly on
the verge of splitting, David Bowie provided a

SIGNE ANDERSON
Jefferson Airplane vocalist
(1941-2016)
Signe Andersons tenure with
Jefferson Airplane lasted only
a year, but she left a lasting
impression. Bandmate Jack Casady
recalled her rich contralto voice
and wonderful tone, while Jorma
Kaukonen called her an important
member of our dysfunctional little
family. Anderson gravitated to
San Francisco from Portland in the
early 60s, where she sang at folk
hangout The Drinking Gourd.
Recruited by Paul Kantner and
Marty Balin, her appropriation of
Memphis Minnies Chauffeur
Blues was a highlight of 1966

lifeline with All The Young Dudes. The song became their breakthrough
hit, soon followed by the likes of All The Way From Memphis and Roll
Away The Stone.
Hunters departure in 1974 led to Griffin and Watts reconfiguring a fresh
lineup as Mott, finally morphing into British Lions. The band fizzled to
a halt at the end of the decade, after which Griffin and Watts founded a
production company and oversaw Hanoi Rocks Back To Mystery City and
the 1980 Department S hit, Is Vic There?
Between 1980 and 1993, Griffin produced nearly 2,000 sessions for BBC
Radio One, among them Pulps professional debut and an early Nirvana set
that eventually surfaced on 1992s Incesticide.

ELSE MARIE PADE

school during the 60s, where


she studied under Stockhausen.
Much like UK counterpart
Delia Derbyshire, Pade went
unacknowledged for most of her
life, though she collaborated
with Danish sound artist Jacob
Kirkegaard on 2013s Svaevninger
and, a year later, saw the release
of a career overview, Electronic
Works 1958-1995.

Electronic music innovator

MIC GILLETTE

(1924-2016)

Tower Of Power trumpeter

debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes


Off. She quit in October that year,
returning to Oregon to become a
full-time mother. Anderson also
sang with Carl Smith And The
Natural Gas Company, and made
sporadic appearances with
Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna
over the decades.

Else Marie Pade was Denmarks


foremost pioneer of electronic
scores and musique concrte,
beginning in 1954 with A Day At
Bakken. A contemporary of French
composers Pierre Boulez and Pierre
Schaeffer, former
German POW Pade
went on to create
experimental works
such as 1958s Seven
Circles and Symphonie
Magnetophonique, an
epic piece using found
sounds and street noise
to describe everyday
life in Copenhagen.
Readyfortakeoff:
She also made regular
SigneAnderson
and the band, 1965
trips to the Darmstadt

(1951-2016)
Tower Of Power emerged from the
Oakland club scene of the late 60s
to become one of Americas most
lauded funk bands. Central to their
sound was a robust brass section
featuring first trumpeter Mic
Gillette, who was equally adept at
trombone, flugelhorn and tuba.
The son of Tommy Dorseys old
trombonist Ray Gillette, he was a
powerful presence from 1970 debut
East Bay Grease through to 1984,
a time span that included a couple
of Billboard Top 30 hits in Youre
Still A Young Man and So Very
Hard To Go. The band also toured
with The Rolling Stones, Santana,

CCR and Rod Stewart. Gillette


went on to play with The Sons Of
Champlin before rejoining Tower
Of Power in 2009.

DAN HICKS
Hot Licks singer-songwriter
(1941-2016)
In the wake of his most successful
album, 1973s Last Train To
Hicksville, Dan Hicks broke up his
band. It was an illustration of the
peculiar logic that would define
his working life. Originally the
drummer in Bay Area acid-rockers
The Charlatans, he quit to
form Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks
in 1967. Hicks called them folk
jazz, a reductive label that
failed to grasp their sweeping
assimilation of country, Western
swing, bluegrass, jazz and roots
music. His aversion to being a
bandleader led to a 22-year exile
from recording (during which
time he played with the Acoustic
Warriors), before Hicks returned
with the Hot Licks for 2000s
Beatin The Heat, featuring
Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and
Rickie Lee Jones.
ROB HUGHES

APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

119

MORTON BEEBE/CORBIS; GETTY IMAGES

DALE BUFFIN GRIFFIN

LETTERS

THATS THE MESSAGE


THAT I SENT

PICTURE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL/GREG GORMAN

Comfort has been hard to find,


as a Bowie fan, in these last two
weeks. It took me five days to steel
myself to read David Cavanaghs
wonderful piece [Uncut, March
issue, Take 226], having wept in
my kitchen over John Mulveys
opening note and put the mag into
the corner for when I was ready. The
outpouring of, as he called it, grief
and chaos did not surprise me in
the least. My closest friend, who
lectures in music technology, and
who I met on BowieNet, told me a
week after his passing that it felt
like her fandom and dedication had
been vindicated, as everyone else
now understands why we love him
as we do, because theyre starting
to see it also (including her teenage
students, who are discovering
his music for the first time with
wide-eyed amazement).
I am now beyond grateful for
that time we spent in New York in
December, taking two chances
(December 9 and 10) to see the
remarkable and moving Lazarus,
a tale of redemption and farewell,
while other friends given to us
by BowieNet waited outside the
theatre on press night (December
7), witnessing his final public
appearance. Id felt unsure about
the play until I saw the photos of
his face that night, smiling and
content, and I knew that he knew
hed done it. He was right to be so
pleased with the play and album,
and through my grief, I can see that
Blackstar was a gift that would help
us cope with his loss. Even more so,
you simply have to admire the
audaciousness of the way he went
out. He orchestrated the greatest
rock death of all time. What else
would you expect? He changed my
life in real, tangible ways. I will
miss him so very much, but
fortunately, music lives forever.
Liz Tray, London

JAZZIN FOR
BLUE JEAN
I have just read your magazines
tribute to David Bowie [Uncut,
March issue]. I noticed a share your
memories, and thought, well, why
not? I was lucky enough to work
with my very own hero. In the 80s
I was a model/dancer and was cast
in the video shoot for Blue Jean.
It was shot over a couple of days at

120 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

uncool though both groups were


no fringes, Cuban heels and studied
Byrds-like poses here at least they
were of their time and werent
pretending it was 1966.
Jon Wakeham, via email

200 GREATEST
ALBUMS?
LAUGHABLE!

Bowieonthe
catwalkinthe
JazzinForBlue
Jean video

The Wag Club, in Chinatown,


London. During the filming we all,
some 15 dancers, got used to DB
walking around us and chatting.
At one point, late on the first day,
another dancer and I had been
placed by a catwalk, that was to
feature in the video, for a lighting
call. DB sat, guitar in hand, with us.
There was noise all around the club
as film crew rushed around, setting
up for the next shot. He said, Shall
I sing something? I, forgetting
myself, gushed, Ooh, you couldnt
sing Life On Mars could you its
my favourite? He laughed, and he
did. He created a memory that has
lasted a lifetime.
Mandy Komlosy, via email
I used to be a regular at The
Strawbs Folk Club, at The White
Bear Pub in Hounslow, 1969, on
Monday nights, I think. One night,
Dave Cousins introduced a young
singer performing his new song
Space Oddity, for the first time in
public. David Bowie, replete with
crinkly blond hair and Afghan coat,
appeared armed only with an
acoustic guitar: a performance that
has stayed with me to this day.
Nigel Mill, via email

FURTHER REASON
TO BELIEVE
I enjoyed Graeme Thomsons story
on Tim Hardin [Uncut, March issue].
As for the essential albums
believe it or not the best Tim Hardin

record is The Homecoming Concert,


recorded in his hometown of
Eugene, Oregon in 1980, just
months before Tim died.
Remarkably he was in fine voice,
and playing great. I love these
stories on the lost heroes of folkrock, but one man who deserves
attention, and is still with us, is
Steve Young who, along with
Gram Parsons, was an architect
of both country rock and outlaw
music in the 1960s and early
70s with his records on A & M and
RCA. Steve had a recent fall and
deserves a nod.
Tom Russell, Santa Fe,
New Mexico

IN DEFENCE OF A
FLOCK OF SEAGULLS
I think that Sid Griffin, in your
Archive feature [Uncut, March
issue], is being a little unfair to the
music scene that The Long Ryders
emerged into in the early 1980s.
As far as I remember it wasnt all
A Flock Of Seagulls, Haircut 100
and watered-down dance music.
I recall a vibrant indie scene on
both sides of the Atlantic and
in the UK; even groups like The
Associates and Bauhaus could dent
the mainstream charts. Despite
my personal preference for The
Fall and The Cravats at the time, I
always had a sneaking regard for
the catchy pop of A Flock Of
Seagulls I Ran and Haircut 100s
Love Plus One. Desperately

Come on, the title of this article [The


200 Greatest Albums Of All Time,
Uncut, February 2016] is laughable.
If this was as stated, where are the
blues and rocknroll albums,
Graceland, Tim Buckley, Band On
The Run, Elvis, Elton John, etc? The
Fall, The Slits, two of The Velvet
Underground, The Clash and The
Smiths should all come out and be
replaced by music that deserves to
be in a Top 200. This was written
by a bunch of (mostly) youngish
writers trying to impress you with
their scanty knowledge of music
over the past 40 years.
Alan Mitchell, via email
I have been buying albums since
1967 but only have five of your 200
choices. Hopefully other readers
who also have such poor taste may
be a little relieved to hear that this
lack of judgement is not entirely
their fault. A list without Bridge
Over Troubled Waters [sic] cannot
be taken too seriously. We all have
our own favourites, so feel proud
with whatever collection you have.
My 50 best albums would include
Steve Harley, Richie Havens,
numerous 70s soul groups, Bobby
Womack, Sam Dees, Keni Stevens,
Nina Simone, Melanie, BeBe &
CeCe Winans, Lil Louis and Neil
Diamond! All overlooked by
your contributors, apart from
the Isleys sole entry.
John Burton, via email
Really? Not one Elvis Presley
album? Really? Idiots.
Gary L Wilson, via email

WHITHER ELTON?
Among your choices for the list of
200 albums, you could not find a
single space for even one Elton John
album? I understand the British
music press has never forgiven
Reg for having to leave the United
Kingdom to become, almost
instantly, the biggest rock star in
the world during the 1970s. Even
though Elton was right under your

Oneofthreecopies
ofTheCoralsDistance
Inbetween on CD

CROSSWORD

TAKE 227 | APRIL 2016

noses before he crossed the


Atlantic, the British music press
paid him little praise or attention.
Its been 46 years get over it, guys.
While you were busy hyping Marc
Bolan, Elton John conquered the
world without your blessing. And
that petty grudge still continues as
those same rock journalists of the
past are now the rock historians
of the present. A list of 200 of the
greatest rock albums, and
obvious Elton John contenders
including Goodbye Yellow Brick
Road, Captain Fantastic And The
Brown Dirt Cowboy or Tumbleweed
Connection dont make the grade?
Meanwhile your list over-represents
several artists (David Bowie
seven albums?) and pretentiously
includes some albums that delight
in the general obscurity. Eltons
only sin has been to write and
perform a litany of best-selling
albums and mega-popular hit
songs loved by millions for almost
five decades. Elton John is an artist
who so loves his mother country,
who never left it to fashionably
become a tax exile like so many of
his peers, and who only strived to
be accepted by the English music
scene. But despite an endearing,
enduring recorded and performing
career, he remains disrespected
despite unquestioned talent and
unparalleled accomplishments.
Shame. Shame. Shame.
James Turano, Chicago, USA

AND FINALLY
Solipsism is the self-centred belief
that the world revolves exclusively
around you. I am reminded of this
when people invariably write in
when lists are published to
complain about how a particular
album/artist has been excluded.
They fail to grasp the simple reason
is that others have completely
different tastes and are not overly
interested in what theirs are.
My main doubt about the 200
Greatest Albums is the logistics of
achieving any credible ranking
system, given that the 57 people
involved would have such disparate
choices and that total must be in the
thousands. Clearly, greatness in the
eyes of this esteemed panel does
not equate with popularity, as
evidenced by the fact that two LPs
that achieved No 1 status in both the
UK and US (Thriller and Harvest)
both languish surprisingly in the
high 100s. Moreover, two other
mega-selling albums that might
be expected to be in the lists of the
buying public are not even featured
Hotel California and Brothers In
Arms (nor are any of these artists
other albums). And 22 of the albums
never even featured in either chart.
David M, via email

7
8

11

EDITOR John Mulvey


ASSOCIATE EDITOR Michael Bonner
ASSOCIATE EDITOR John Robinson
ART EDITOR Marc Jones
SENIOR DESIGNER Michael Chapman
PRODUCTION EDITOR Mick Meikleham
ACTING ALBUM REVIEWS EDITOR Tom Pinnock
PICTURE RESEARCHER Phil King
EDITOR AT LARGE Allan Jones

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1+4A AnewalbumfromSuede?
Inyourdreams(5-8)
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asTanya?(7)
25+4DFormerProcolHarumguitaristwho
wentsoloovertheBridgeOfSighs(5-6)
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andIdbuildmy house, baby, with sorrow,
Duffy(9)
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USA,theneverybodydbesurfin,like
Californi-a,TheBeachBoys(5)
32TheKinksdoingtime(4)
33+34AThe Kinks on release (3-2-4)

1+10ASomefreshclobberfromIanDury
(3-5-3-7)
2Idliketotalkaboutthat/Talkover___in
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_____________,2007(4-2-3-4)
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myeyes,because___________,1986(4-4-3)
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APRIL 2016 | UNCUT |

121

MY LIFE IN MUSIC

Bobby Gillespie
How Primal Screams insurrectionist frontman learned
to take sides, via his dads Johnny Cash records...

A childhood favourite
Johnny Cash
A Boy Named Sue 1969
We had this single, with the B-side, San
Quentin, and we used to play it again and
again. We would sit with our dad and play
A Boy Named Sue and fall about laughing.
And then wed put on San Quentin and we loved it. When he says San
Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell and all the fucking prisoners go
Yeaaah!!, me and my brother used to go Yeaaah!! We were taking sides
at a very early age.

Public Image Limited


Metal Box 1979
When Primal Scream started, Jim Beattie
played one chord while I hit trash cans and
screamed. Two years before the Mary Chain we
were screaming in this school hall Jims mum had the keys to. We used to
beat dents in the ventilation shafts with our fists. It was heavily influenced
by PiL. Their first three LPs are like bibles. For punk you had three chords,
but if you couldnt play, you could still form an inventive post-punk band.

My glam rock
awakening

A song that inspired


the Mary Chain

The Sweet

Dale Hawkins

Blockbuster 1973

Susie-Q 1957

My parents would play Dylan, Ray Charles


or Hank Williams while I was playing with
my fucking Action Man or whatever, but the
music I first really became aware of was glam rock. I fucking love The
Sweet. I remember someone at school telling me Brian Connolly had lived
in Hampden Terrace, the next street from mine. I walked up and down it
thinking, Where did he live, where did he live? But he was long gone.

Because the 80s were so fucking bad for


rock, we were all listening to the 60s. William
Reid repeatedly played me Susie-Q by Dale
Hawkins in his bedroom, discussing and analysing it. I thought it was a
Creedence song, but then he played me the Hawkins version. Its totally
mindblowing. No-one had ever ripped music apart to me the way William
did. He was ahead of the game, the way he looked at music.

An album that took


punk to a new level

A recent, Factoryinspired favourite

Siouxsie & The Banshees

LoneLady

The Scream 1978

Hinterland 2015

Punk was so high-energy, but it had to go


somewhere else and quickly, and the first
record to really do that was The Scream. That
lineup has been a huge influence on us, even the way Kenny Morris played
drums. I was fortunate enough to see The Scream tour the first song was
Helter Skelter, and their version was like if Charlie Manson had covered
Helter Skelter; its like a Death Valley fucking special, Death Valley blues.

I really love this record. Julie Campbell is doing


her own thing, but the way she plays guitar
really reminds me sometimes of Bernard
Sumner on the first New Order album. The whole album is very early
New Order, you know, those first few singles. Its kind of scratchy, but
shes definitely got her own style its very early Factory Records, which
I love. I really loved Hinterland, and listened to it a lot last year.

A rediscovered
post-punk classic

A socialist, synth
masterpiece

Au Pairs

Gwenno

Playing With A Different Sex 1981


INTERVIEW: TOM PINNOCK. PHOTO: XXXXX

The early Screams


musical bible

As much as Im influenced by punk, musically


its post-punk that is important to me. Recently
Ive been listening again to this LP. Fucking
hell, man, it really has influenced me. They wrote songs about Armagh,
internment, the coldness of dysfunctional relationships, writing about
sex in a cold and detached way. It was feminist post-punk. Theyve got that
funk thing the Gang Of Four had, but maybe, I think, the songs are better.

Y Dydd Olaf 2014


I love Gwennos album. I cant pronounce the
title, but in English its The Last Day. Its one
of the albums I played the most last year. They
were playing it a lot on BBC 6 Music, and Andrew Innes from Primal Scream
emailed me the video and said, This is really cool. I think shes fairly
left-wing, and came from a socialist background. There are some amazing
synth sounds on it, but shes also a fucking good singer very strong.

Primal Screams Chaosmosis is released by Ignition Records on March 18. The bands UK tour begins at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom on March 29

IN NEXT MONTHS UNCUT:

122 | UNCUT | APRIL 2016

Shes one of the most phenomenal artists there is right now... She leads, she doesnt follow!

             

              


            
               



      


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